Category Archives: National Poetry Month videos

National Poetry Month: April 11-15

Hi Friends!

It’s been a busy month! First, a book I highly recommend to pre-order from Sara Lippmann, The Doll Palace. It’s a collection of short stories, and I am thrilled for Sara:

Dock Street Press Palace

And now, for National Poetry Month!

On April 11, I read “Clouds” by  Barbara Ras. I was introduced to this poem at Esalen Institute last summer, and it prompted me to write a poem called “Hummingbirds,” which is in Addicts & Basements:

Barbara Ras▶ Robert Vaughan reads “Clouds” by Barbara Ras – YouTube

On April 13, I read The Dead Woman” by Pablo Neruda. This poem, in various forms of translations from its original Spanish, is included in the masterful movie “Truly, Madly, Deeply” which I saw with my best pal, Andrea, on a rainy Amsterdam afternoon. We had no idea what we were in for! ▶ Robert Vaughan reads “The Dead Woman” by Pablo Neruda – YouTube

On April 14, I chose Amy King’s “The Woman of Zero.” Amy is multi-talented, and such a whimsical, deep, unusual writer. Such scope!

Amy King\

Robert Vaughan reads “The Woman of Zero” by Amy King – YouTube

On April 15, I read Indigo Moor’s Tap-Root from his quintessential book of the same name. I had the great fortune of meeting Indigo and hearing him read his stunning work at AWP Seattle:


Have you gone to a reading lately? Read a poem on the train or subway? Flown someplace exotic with a surprising book that changed your outlook? If not, what are you waiting for?


National Poetry Month: April 9 and 10

Hi Friends,

For every writer, there is the infrequent, yet pure joy of creativity, when expression literally comes through you and onto a page. Rare, it is, indeed, and when it happens, so exquisite. Well, there is a new joy, and it’s profound. That of one’s work being translated into another poet’s own work, alchemical, organic, and transformative. Like a trance in motion. Please read this exquisite review of Addicts & Basements by Mark Kerstetter at his blog, The Mockingbird Sings. Thanks a million, Mark:

Robert Vaughan and Breathless | The Mockingbird Sings

For National Poetry Month, on April 9th, I read “untitled” by Marilyn Hacker from this poetry collection, all sonnets:

Marilyn Hacker


And here is the poem: ▶ Robert Vaughan reads “Untitled” by Marilyn Hacker – YouTube

Also, on April 10th (today) I read “Lullaby” by W.H. Auden:

▶ Robert Vaughan reads “Lullaby” from W.H. Auden – YouTube

Tonight I will be on Bud Smith’s Unknown Show on Blog Talk Radio, and other guests include Michael Dickes, Janice Lee and Cort Bledsoe. Call in:

The Unknown Show with Bud Smith 04/10 by theliteraryunderground | Writing Podcasts

Also, check out the Wednesday Roundup recap at Entropy: Wednesday Entropy Roundup | ENTROPY

And if that’s not enough links, then I don’t know what to say. Have fun, be safe.

National Poetry Month: Simon Perchik from Hands Collected

Today for National Poetry Month, I read Simon Perchik’s poem (untitled) from Hands Collected, published at Pavement Saw Press:



Over the years, I’ve had numerous conversations with other poets, and more than often, Simon’s name is mentioned. His poems are staggering in volume, unique in voice and perspective, jarring, earthly devoted, and remarkably lovely.

As a nod to his oeuvre, I constructed a poem, utilizing only the first lines of a Simon Perchik poem, including the title (also, a Perchik first line). Here is the entire poem:

They were reaching for their mother’s breath

Wherever I turn the air needs water

and in the dark my pillow, abandoned

stone, stone, stone, not a drop

again, the sky rubbing against my legs

all the pieces must be found, make

this cup half ecstasy, half adrift

With those hefty walls a bank

even this tree :a stranglehold

And the dead can’t wait, they crouch

as if its stream would slow

What a long way- they know

this bridge as if before its crash

(all words excerpted from Simon Perchik’s Hands Collected: The Books of Poems (1949-1999)

(only first lines used to construct entire poem, including title)

And today, April 8th, I read Simon Perchik for National Poetry Month:

Robert Vaughan reads Simon Perchik’s poem, * from Hands Collected – YouTube

When is the last time you took a train? Had an unexpected picnic? Read a poem that took your breath away?





National Poetry Month: April 6 & 7

Hi friends,

On April 6, I read Matthew Zapruder’s “Sun Bear” from his new collection of the same name:


I read the title poem, which I find so playful, humane, and deep simultaneously:

▶ Robert Vaughan reads “Sun Bear” by Matthew Zapruder – YouTube

On April 7 (today), I read Natasha Tretheway’s “At Dusk” by Natasha Tretheway. This poem is in her collection called Native Guard:


▶ Robert Vaughan reads “At Dusk” by Natasha Tretheway – YouTube

Do you ever wonder who you are calling home? Do you ever take the time to be called? If so, to whom? How so?


National Poetry Month video: “Woman in a Bar” by Dorianne Laux

Hi friends!

Today for National Poetry Month, I read Dorianne Laux’s “Woman in a Bar.” This is one of ten poems from her exquisite chapbook, The Book of Women by Red Dragonfly Press:

Red Dragonfly Press: THE BOOK OF WOMEN by Dorianne Laux



Dorianne, for those who don’t know her, is a wizard! She is simply one of the best poets I know, and I consider myself so fortunate, my life has transformed as a result of every interaction we’ve had. Happy Poetry Month to you, DL, and may you always feel loved.

Here, then, is “Woman in a Bar” and enjoy: Robert Vaughan reads “Woman in a Bar” by Dorianne Laux – YouTube

Have you ever been in a bar? How about Fozzie’s? Boy Bar? King Tut’s Wah-Wah Hut?

When is the last time you sat in a bar, and were completely captivated by someone else? What happened?


National Poetry Month: April 3

Hello friends! Today is a special day:

Happy Birthday, David Carter! May all your wishes come true.

Today, and in celebration of dear friends, and the joy of what true friends bring into our lives, I want to share my one and only trip to Calistoga, California. We did a road trip from my room-mate from college, Gregory and his then-wife, Kimberly’s house in Pleasant Hill. We listened to all of the best tunes of the day, like Salt-n-Pepa’s “What a Man,” as we tore up the 680, speeding north through small towns of Contra Costa County. And, as we were often prone to do, the sounds of these towns (remember, we are all New Yorkers) sounded, well, rather like characters in a play. And so, Andrea “became” Benecia Martinez (a combination of two towns), David “transformed into” Marina Vista, and I was decidedly the child, Chilpanchango. Of course, the characters morphed as we improvised our new relationships, and Benecia became Chilpanchango’s mother (?), while Marina Vista became the “bitchy aunt.”

Are you already seeing how difficult this is to follow? And you thought only I was crazy! Well, if you want, you can read a version of a story I wrote about us all called “The Frog.” Hopefully you will enjoy it! I love and miss you, Andrea and David!

Today, for National Poetry Month, I am going to read Rigoberto Gonzalez’s “The Strangers Who Find Me in the Woods.” (Perhaps this is why those latino towns in California came to mind?) Enjoy!

▶ Robert Vaughan reads “The Stranger Who Finds Me in the Woods” by Rigoberto Gonzalez – YouTube

Do you like getting lost in the woods? What did you find last time? Was Hansel or Gretl with you? Did you come across a wicked witch?



National Poetry Month: April 1-3, 2014

April has arrived in all her glory! One of the innumerable reasons I adore April is it’s National Poetry Month! This year, like 2013, I will select a poem-a-day, and read it, for your listening pleasure. Hopefully you might meet some poets (and poems) that you are not yet familiar with?

On April 1st, I kicked off National Poetry Month by reading Russell Dillon’s “Eternal Patrol.” This is the title poem from his first full collection by the same title:



Russell’s poetry is dark, smart and infused with just the right amount of humor. Here is more about the collection: Eternal Patrol: Russell Dillon: 9780988228733: Books

And here is my reading of “Eternal Patrol: Robert Vaughan reads Russell Dillon’s “Eternal Patrol” – YouTube

Yesterday, April 2nd, I also read the title poem from Laura Kasischke’s “Space, In Chains,” which is a phenomenal poetry collection and won the National Book Critics Circle Award:



“Kasischke’s intelligence is most apparent in her syntactic control and pace, the way she gauges just when to make free verse speed up, or stop short, or slow down.”—The New York Times Book Review

Here is my reading of “Space, in Chains:”

Robert Vaughan reads “Space, In Chains,” from Laura Kasischke – YouTube

What will I read today? More importantly, what will YOU read today? A subway poem? A billboard poem? Maybe it’s a conversation you have with a friend about poetry? I chatted on Facebook with Brian Alan Ellis the other day about Kenneth Patchen (among many other poets). Imagine how different our world would be if we spoke more about poetry than guns? If we read infinitely more poems than listen to stories that contain violence?



National Poetry Month: April 30

Hi friends!

It’s the last day of National Poetry Month: BOO! So, today I have selected Mark Doty’s “A Green Crab’s Shell.” I had the great fortune of hearing Mark read this epic poem more than once; most recently at Omega Institute in their lake theater. Unforgettable!

Robert Vaughan reads Mark Doty’s “A Green Crab’s Shell” – YouTube

Some days are busier than others. Yesterday was one of those days. I had an interview with Stephanie Lecci that aired on WUWM’s “Lake Effect,” Milwaukee’s (NPR) program:

Lake Effect: Vaughn Finds Drama In the Moments In Between

On their website, they wrote some great background about Microtones, my new chapbook, and other various writing influences. I hope you enjoy the interview, and here is where Microtones lives if you are interested:

The Lost Bookshelf Homepage

Then, last night, we hosted our first Middle Coast Poets reading at the venerable RiverWest Public House. I want to thank my generous and talented co-host, Paul Scot August and the amazing poets who read: Nikki Wallschlaeger, Matt Specht, Sharon Foley, Dawn Tefft, Paul Scot August, Ed Makowski, Andrea Potos, and David Tomaloff. And what a great audience we had! Makes me super excited for our next reading in July!

We were all asked to bring one of our favorite poems by another poet. And so, here is a photo of me reading “Poem,” by James Tate:

Photo: Robert fights the power!

National Poetry Month: April 29

Hi friends!

I grew up in a family with three sisters. Like Chekov, I often joke. Not the playwright himself, but his play, The Three Sisters. But I also feel and claim, in all seriousness, I am lucky.

And I was. I think my parents wanted all of us, planned or no plans. And how this shaped me, having only sisters, as a boy, as a person, well, endless ways. The obvious- I’m still quickly through shared bathrooms, sensitive to a fault, a gentleman in social gestures.

Of course, there are the subtle factors, too. Who knows how different I might be had I a brother?

But, still, three sisters they were, and three sisters they are. And so, today I read “Flash,” by Maureen Seaton. And this is for you: Mikel, Cheryl and Heidi. My sisters: mi familia. I love you, always.

Robert Vaughan reads “Flash” by Maureen Seaton – YouTube


Furious cooking: poems” by Maureen Seaton

This won the Iowa Poetry Prize in 1995.

National Poetry Month: April 24

Hi friends!

Today is, or is it not? It is Wednesday, and that makes it a hump day! But, instead I continue on the April path of National Poetry Month. Today I want to focus on abstraction in relation to writing. When I am working with kids, I often recall a writing exercise that we had in first grade. Mrs. Starr gave us one of those thinking out of the box assignments. There were five questions. An example of one or two might be:

How deep is the sky?


When is the ocean blue?

I recall that need emerged to “get it right.” We all have this tendency, it’s reflexive, built- in, hard-wired in our DNA. But what if you take “right” out of the equation? What if there is no “getting at” anything? Maybe the “answer” might be whatever pops into your head?

There are endless times that I read a new piece of mine in my writer’s roundtable, and the consistent feedback is “I’m not sure I get it!” It’s become a barometer for me of being on the “right track,” in some cases. I like to play in a realm of the unexplored, of the risk-taking, of the abstraction: the what is, might not be.

Today I read a poem by Gertrude Stein called “Cezanne.” I am hugely indebted to Stein, whose work I came across in college. Her experimental literary forays inspire me to leap into the unknown, trust my intuition, brave to be different:

Robert Vaughan reads Gertrude Stein’s “Cezanne” – YouTube