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Overheard Conversation & Inspiration

Today a group of writers known as the Poetry Sisters has published poems inspired by overheard conversation; Mary Lee Hahn has the links. Y'all know I love it! Thank you for the shout-outs, Sarah Lewis Holmes, Michelle Kogan, and Carol Varsalona. I'm still working on my own compositions in this particular genre and trying to get them published. Most journals want unpublished work and count blogs as publication, so I haven't been able to post them here. Argh. 

That said, I do have something super fun to share: poet Bernadette Mayer's extensive list of journal ideas ("write once a day in minute detail about one thing") and writing experiments ("Write a work gazing into the mirror without using the pronoun I"). It's housed at the University of Pennsylvania's Electronic Poetry Center. Penn is the home institution of one of my all-time favorite classes, "Modern and Contemporary American Poetry," on Coursera. (It's free. Take it!) Mayer is one of poets whose work we study. In the introduction to a series of essays on the poet, the journal Post45 says, "If the last half century has a poet of daily life of its dreams, babies, children, jokes, meals, sex, love, labors, and writing she is Bernadette Mayer."

Irene Latham has the entire Poetry Friday roundup at Live Your Poem. Photo, ST: Mural by Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada for Street Art Mankind, NYC, 2019.

Mural nyc

TV Room Epigrams


TV Room Epigrams

after Bernadette Mayer

I am the VCR

Unused, undusted,





Over there the Smart TV,

A giant phone, it

Bristles with apps.

Only one in the family

Speaks its language

With fluency.

The other two

congratulate each other

when they arrive at

PBS Passport

in one try.




I am the chair,

Recovered, but

Stained afresh

By blueberries.

Still watching TV,

Appraised at practically


But spared from donation.




Here is the coffee table,

Home to too many books

And half-finished projects,

Hosting winter boots

On the lower level

Where they shed

Their grit





I am the charging station,

Currently charging the air

Or trying to,

Because your cellphone

Is in your purse

And you ignore electricity.


I’ve been reading Bernadette Mayer’s poetry collection Scarlet Tanager (New Directions, 2005), and was tickled by the section “Toy Epigrams.” (No online link is available for the written version, but you can hear her read them at PennSound, the fabulous archive of poets’ recordings.) That was my inspiration to write these “TV Room Epigrams” in the place where I also have my office, such as it is. An icy day and cancelled plans gave me a chance to read and, consequently, write.

The Poetry Friday roundup for January 7th will take place at the blog Beyond LiteracyLink.

Photo by ST. Queens, New York, 2021.