Archives for posts with tag: American poets

by Wallace Stevens

The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night

Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.

The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,

Wanted to lean, wanted much to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom

The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.

The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.

And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself

Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there. 

Credit: Lawrence Schwartzwald/Splashnews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Editor’s Note: Not sure which edition of Wallace Stevens‘ collected poems that poet/rock star Patti Smith is reading in this photo — wasn’t able to find the book cover on Amazon, Google, or ebay.  Wallace Stevens (1879-1955) spent most of his life working as an executive for an insurance company in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1955 — the year of his death at age 75 — he won the Pulitzer Prize for his Collected Poems. Read more about this inspiring poet at


UPDATE: In the photo above, Patti Smith is reading The Cambridge Companion to Wallace Stevens (not The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens as we at first thought).



We are honored and pleased to report that poetry by the 13th U.S. Poet Laureate (2004-2006), Ted Kooser, will appear in the Silver Birch Press SUMMER ANTHOLOGY. We will keep the name of the poem under wraps until we release the collection on June 1, 2013. In the meantime, here is another beautiful poem by Ted Kooser, “A Happy Birthday,” found in his collection DELIGHTS AND SHADOWS (Copper Canyon Press, 2004), which won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Kooser will celebrate his 74th birthday on April 25th.


by Ted Kooser

This evening, I sat by an open window

and read till the light was gone and the book

was no more than a part of the darkness.

I could easily have switched on a lamp,

but I wanted to ride this day down into night,

to sit alone and smooth the unreadable page

with the pale gray ghost of my hand. 



Poem by Robert Phillips

As a teenager I would drive Father’s
Chevrolet cross-county given me
Reluctantly: “Always keep the tank
Half full, boy, half full, ya hear?”
The fuel gauge dipping, dipping
Toward Empty, hitting Empty, then
–thrilling—way below Empty,
myself driving cross-county

mile after mile, faster and faster,
all night long, this crazy kid driving
the earth’s rolling surface,
against all laws, defying chemistry,
rules, and time, riding on nothing
but fumes, pushing luck harder
than anyone pushed before, the wind
screaming past like the Furies…
I stranded myself only once, a white
Night with no gas stations open, ninety miles
From nowhere. Panicked for a while,
At a standstill, myself stalled.
At dawn the car and I both refilled. But,
Father, I am running on empty still. 

Note: Robert Phillips, born in 1938, refers to himself as a “teenager” in this poem, so I’m guessing he might have driven a 1954 Chevy when he was 16.

Source: Find this and scores of other remarkable poems in Drive, They Said: Poems About Americans and Their Cars, an excellent anthology edited by Kurt Brown (Milkweed Editions, 1994) — available at (many copies are available for just 4 cents plus shipping). Highly recommended! 

Closing Thought: Our deep condolences to all those affected by Hurricane Sandy — many of whom are running on empty in ways too numerous to count (and not by choice).