Imagination in Literary Nonfiction


Choose one of the following five poems published in CCU’s Waccamaw: A Journal of Contemporary Literature

Music Box by Kit Loney

Shed by Michael McFee

In the Waiting Room by Heather Treseler

“Summertime” by Derrick Austin

One Long Leaving by Marie-Elizabeth Mali

Some of my favorite poems, at least many of the ones available online, in no particular order:

Squirt Gun” by Robert Morgan

Autumn” by T.E. Hulme

Animula” by T.S. Eliot

Counting Miracles at the State Asylum” by Rhett Iseman Trull

The Real Warnings Are Always Too Late” by Rhett Iseman Trull

Sunday Morning Argument” by Dan Albergotti

December 25, 2005” by Dan Albergotti

Please Refrain from Talking during the Movie” by Robert Polito

Coming Into History” by Jeanne Murray Walker

A Prisoner of Things” by Alan Michael Parker

Between Poems the Vandals Go” by Alan Michael Parker

Lost in Amsterdam” by James McKean

Sonnet XII: “When I do count the clock that tells the time” by William Shakespeare

Sonnet XXIX: “When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes” by William Shakespeare

Sonnet XXX: “When to the sessions of sweet silent thought” by William Shakespeare

Sonnet: “America” by Claude McKay

*Sonnet defined

Sestina: “Let Me Count the Waves” by Sandra Beasley

*Sestina defined

Villanelle: “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop

*Villanelle defined

Haiku: “Haiku Journey” by Kimberly Blaeser

Haiku: “Blue Octavo Haiku” by Rachel Wetzsteon

*Haiku defined

In A Station of the Metro” by Ezra Pound

I Heard a Fly Buzz — when I died –” by Emily Dickinson

Tell All the Truth” by Emily Dickinson

Words” by Dana Gioia

Unsaid” by Dana Gioia

Money” by Dana Gioia

Planting a Sequoia” by Dana Gioia

Prayer” by Dana Gioia

Fog” by Carl Sandburg

Chicago” by Carl Sandburg

Love Calls Us to the Things of This World” by Richard Wilbur

The Pardon” by Richard Wilbur

Mind” by Richard Wilbur

my father moved through dooms of love” by E.E. Cummings

All in green went my love riding” by E.E. Cummings

The Yachts” by William Carlos Williams

The Great Figure” by William Carlos Williams

Recuerdo” by Edna St. Vincet Millay

What the Moon Knows” by Richard H. Behm

* * *

Two of my own, for general amusement:

Losing River View Farm” by Colin Foote Burch (on my own blog)

Regarding Joy & Grace” by Colin Foote Burch (in New Mirage Journal)

This outstanding interview with Flannery O’Connor’s friend Louise Abbot provides new, personal insights into the famous Southern Catholic writer. Click here to watch the HD video interview.

For some additional perspective on O’Connor, see my interview with Peter Augustine Lawler, who talks about the O’Connor short story “Good Country People.”

Scansion: the rhythm and meter of a line or verse, or the act of analyzing the rhythm and meter of a line of verse.

*** By writing in verse – with rhythm and meter – the writer gives the language a “pulse that makes it easier to speak and hear” (Folger Shakespeare Library)






new YORK












new or-LEANS








Amphibrach (AM-fi-brack)






Mono = 1         Di = 2              Tri = 3              Tetra = 4          Penta = 5

Hexa = 6          Hepta = 7         Octo = 8

i WANT  |   to GO  |   outSIDE  |   toDAY      (iambic tetrameter)

NEV-er  |   LET me  |  FOL-low       (trochaic trimeter)

Shakespeare primarily used iambic pentameter. It matches the beat of a human heart. When iambic pentameter doesn’t rhyme, it’s called “blank verse.” He doesn’t always stick to it strictly.


“Although strictly speaking, iambic pentameter refers to five iambs in a row, in practice, poets vary their iambic pentameter a great deal, while maintaining the iamb as the most common foot. However there are some conventions to these variations. Iambic pentameter must always contain only five feet, and the second foot is almost always an iamb. The first foot, on the other hand, is the most likely to change by the use of inversion, which reverses the order of unstress and stress in the foot.” –Folger Shakespeare Library

˘ /  


























Elision: squeezing words to make them fit the scansion  

 O’er instead of over

Heav’n instead of Heaven



The argument of the “To Be or Not to Be” speech:

To live or die; that’s what I’m wondering. Is it better to end life’s misery now, or to keep on fighting against it? Death: that would end all the pain and heartache. And how great the pain and heartache! But death, like sleep, might bring bad dreams. That’s a problem! Because who would accept all the agony of being alive (the pain of getting old, meanness and arrogance, love affairs gone wrong, official corruption, the humiliations good people choose to accept rather than eliminating them with one thrust of a knife) who would put up with it if not for the fact that we are all scared of dying? We don’t know what happens to us after we die, so we choose the miseries we know over the terrors we don’t. We’re cowards. We think too much. And when we do that, we paralyze ourselves until we can’t do anything at all. Hold on a second. Here comes Ophelia.

“There exists a chasm between those, on one side, who relate everything to a single central vision … and, on the other side, those who pursue many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory…. The first kind of intellectual and artistic personality belongs to the hedgehogs, the second to the foxes.”

A new craft essay at Brevity explains how writers of creative nonfiction can use speculation to their advantage.

Lisa Knopp writes, “At some point, writers of creative nonfiction come to a road block or dead end in our writing, where we don’t have access to the facts we need to tell our story or to sustain our reflection with depth and fullness. If only it was ethical to just make something up, we might think, or to elaborate a bit on what we know. But of course, then we wouldn’t be writing creative nonfiction. It might appear that our choices in such cases are to either abandon the topic or write a thinly developed scene or reflection.

“In Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston offers another option.”

Read the full article here.


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