High Voltage Poetry: On the Poetic Turn

13 05 2016

As part of the programming for the inauguration of Illinois Wesleyan University’s nineteenth president, Eric Jensen, on Friday, April 1, some colleagues and I participated in a series of lightning talks highlighting some of the artistic and scholarly projects taking place at IWU. Along with poet Dan Smart (among other things, the author of the great poetry blog “Rhythm Is the Instrument”) and student respondents Kristina Dehlin and Jake Morris, I was a part of the presentation “High Voltage Poetry: On the Poetic Turn.” Check it out for a succinct introduction to the turn, for Dan’s terrific reflections on ways in which the turn has informed his own work, and for Kristina’s and Jake’s very smart reflections and questions–


The High Voltage Poetry Team: Dan Smart, Jake Morris, Kristina Dehlin, and Mike Theune


Smart’s “Structure and Surprise”

12 02 2016

Structure and Surprise


If—the facts
are all

the plot, simply details,

and if
words are just hollow magic

tricks to make the wind more
reliable and appear more
solid than it really is,

and—what if?
even our bravest

to be totally

are shards?
of some shattered shared
soul of a soundless-in-vast-perpetuity universe,

which moves forever
toward frozen oblivion,
without ever really changing shape—

Then what?—what’s left? in the
landscape, I wonder,
to survey.

I see—only

architecture, yes,
but some

cool gargoyles leftover.


How could it be that I failed to share this?!

The above is a poem by friend and fellow student Dan Smart, who is publishing the products of his amazing, multi-year, poem/day project over at his blog, Rhythm Is the Instrument. “Structure and Surprise” is just one of (holy $#!+) over a thousand poems, and like so many of ’em, it, among many other things, loves and plays with turns. Enjoy! (And then do check out Dan’s blog for many, MANY more great poems and turns–)

Super, Smart!

15 11 2013


The wise old
beginner—an applecheeked boy


into a huge white beard

is a sometime
friend and weird-

ly potent little
notion of mine

ever I feel—that one

too many
lids are closing—


Since I don’t know how long, my friend and former student Dan Smart has been posting (at least!) a poem / day on Facebook.  Just at the level of quantity, it’s an impressive project.  What makes the project truly awesome, however, is the quality of the poems–so many sudden revelations and glorious surprises!

As with so many of Dan’s poems, “Full Disclosure” grabbed my attention.  And, as it seemed to me to be a new emblem poem, I thought I’d post it here for fans of the turn.

Many thanks to Dan for granting permission to reprint the poem, and for sharing his daily discoveries over on Facebook.