Aug 18 2015

Poet Republik-Brian Henry

Brian Henry is a poet who likes to play. In the following piece, you will note lines of precisely 5 syllables in length. He once told me he wrote a sonnet a day for a year for fun, I think. Or maybe it was a story Hayden Carruth told about Ezra Pound who once wrote a sonnet a day for a year and then threw them all away. Carruth told the workshop he was guest-teaching, “and if you can’t do that, then you’re not a poet.” Either way, as the wondrous Tomaž Šalamun would say, it’s good mythology. In this vein, I am asking my poetry students to write their own small offerings, inspired by Mr. Henry’s piece (Brian might say here, Mr. Henry is my father), of 5 syllables per line, and at least 5 lines in length. You can play along too…


Revenge is no dish

and should not be served

at all, much less cold.


But as a guiding

principle, revenge

can cast quite a light.


Although it begins

in darkness, it breaks,

so timely, toward

any little shine:


may your object of

revenge be standing

or, better, kneeling

in front of you when

that light breaks to sun.


Poet, translator, and editor Brian Henry earned his BA at the College of William & Mary and an MFA from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. His collections of poetry include Astronaut (2000), American Incident (2002), Graft (2003), Quarantine (2006), In the Unlikely Event of a Water (2007), The Stripping Point (2007), Wings Without Birds (2010), Lessness (2011), and Doppelgänger (2011). An advocate for Slovenian poets and poetry, he has translated Tomaž Šalamun’s Woods and Chalices (2008) and Aleš Šteger’s The Book of Things (2010). Henry’s translation of Aleš Debeljak’s Smugglers received a 2011 Howard Foundation fellowship.

Henry edited the collection of essays On James Tate (2004). He is the cofounder and coeditor, with Andrew Zawacki, of Verse Magazine. Henry and Zawacki also coedited The Verse Book of Interviews: 27 Poets on Language, Craft & Culture (2005).

Henry’s poems, essays, and translations have been published widely in journals such as Jacket, the Georgia Review, the Iowa Review, and elsewhere. He has received fellowships for translation from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Fulbright Program, the Slovenian Ministry of Culture, and the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts. His honors and awards include a Distinguished Educator Award, a Cecil B. Hemley Memorial Award, an Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, and a George Bogin Memorial Award. He teaches at the University of Richmond.


10 Responses to Poet Republik-Brian Henry
  1. S. Garza says:

    In the early morning a tempered man rises

    as he gets ready for the day

    he starts to shiver and quiver

    dreading over his timely task

    the bearded man throws on a jacket and heads for the door

    taking heavy steps towards the shed

    the bearded man comes to a halt

    seizing deep and long breaths at the reminder

    the bearded man continues in a forward motion

    diving for the rake

    he gazez upon the crumbled leaves in the beautiful autumn season

    suddenly the man that once had a temper

    cracks out a gracious smile

    he surly knows where his place is.

  2. A.Molina says:

    There was an abduction of sight
    the look before my eyes turned to black
    I crumbled the blunt in my hand and smelled the aroma of sickness before me
    when I touched the ground I shrugged in agony for I can only taste the left overs feeling a simmer in myself. I wrangle the day I was abducted of true sight yet the only sound was the one in my head telling me what I did wrong.

  3. E. Salceda says:

    It was on that time,
    when maple flowers
    are red and the wind
    makes you feel live,
    when I was wearing
    my jacket, waiting
    for her.Two glasses
    of wine, ready on
    the table; noone
    wants to drink them. The
    oxygen is not
    enough to be here
    alone. The time has
    shriven loud to me,
    that she’ll never come.

  4. J. Serrato says:

    Infinite amount

    of information

    traveling in space

    racing to get to you

    to tell you “hello”.

    Technology we admire

    pumps us full of rads

    as we lose countless hours

    shortening our span.

  5. A.Ramirez says:

    Hear the roaster crow
    Wake up at first light
    Grab your keys and drive,

    Never get to smell ,
    The sizzling beacon.

    Maybe, if only,
    Earths rotations was
    Thirty two hours
    And not twenty four

    One could be driving
    With a full stomach
    And with no worries

    No time to slow down
    Enter the highway
    With new rubber shoes,
    Gripping the concreate
    Doing nighty five

    Life feels like a race,
    Let the day begin.

  6. A. Estrada says:

    Walking through the forest
    as I see a horsefly
    I shrug in disregard
    attempting to rake
    the vine to build a
    path for warranty

  7. A. Zaldivar says:

    I shrug my shoulders

    when I get asked a question.

    I just want to put my

    jacket over my face

    when i get embarrased.

    I wish I could control my temper.

    The oxygen is decreasing

    while i take this math test.

    I wish my parents weren’t

    so strict about getting a degree.

    I wish I could turn

    up the battery in me.

    Is there a life time

    warranty if my

    parent’s dream goes wrong?

  8. D. Vazquez says:

    A bungle of vines
    Numinous in sight
    A smudge oil
    Wrangle turns surly
    A horsefly takes flight

  9. N.Garcia says:

    Feel your body bend
    as the wires pull back.
    Cut them all away.
    Stop counting the days.
    Dust off the chalk marks.
    Temper your resolve.
    Respond, react, display
    some alacrity.

  10. H. Rubalcava says:

    I rake all the leafs and tomatoes began to drop

    A vine full of tomatoes just waiting to be pluck

    the blast of cold wind
    can use another jacket

    The water has been brought to simmer for some tasty hot soup

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