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Roses are Red, River Hawks are Blue

Our Favorite Poems

 Rowdy the River Hawk (mascot) sitting typing at a typewriter.


This April is the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month. The 30-day span has become the largest literary celebration in the world, according to the Academy of American Poets. To mark the occasion, we checked in with some of our campus literature lovers and asked them about their favorite poems.
UMass Lowell Image
Assoc. Prof. Maggie Dietz of the English Department; award-winning poet

“At the Fishhouses,” by Elizabeth Bishop

""At the Fishhouses" leaves me breathless with admiration. I’m amazed at the subtle, masterful way Bishop balances an acute attention to minute atmospheric detail with a larger purpose of expression: to describe knowledge."

Paul Marion '76, '05, retired director of Community Relations; published poet

“The Term,” by William Carlos Williams

"William Carlos Williams was my first poetry hero. I 'discovered' him when I started college in the early 1970s and was beginning to think about writing short stories – not poems. "The Term" made me stop in my tracks. It is so ordinary and extraordinary at the same time. I had not read poetry made of words and images like this one and others that he wrote. Williams' example has stayed with me for more than 40 years."

Keith Mitchell
Assoc. Prof. Keith Mitchell of the English Department

“The Lovers of the Poor,” by Gwendolyn Brooks

"This poem marks Brooks’ coming into (black) political consciousness and her use of art to poignantly articulate the exclusion of African Americans from the American Dream and the self-righteousness of so-called progressive-minded Americans in their dealings with the poor. The line, “Their League is allotting largesse to the Lost,” is exquisite. The running sound of the L’s is almost musical and sharply contrasts with the brutal images of black poverty throughout "The Lovers of the Poor"."

Vanessa Rances
Vanessa Rances, senior English creative writing major and singer-songwriter

“The Young Housewife,” by William Carlos Williams

"I find that I am most appreciative of small poems like "The Young Housewife" by William Carlos Williams. So long as the right words paint brilliant images, there is nothing left to be desired and much more to be interpreted. I've always enjoyed the arcane nature of this poem in particular, as I find that I am able to conjure up a new theory every time."
 Anthony Szczesiul
Assoc. Prof. Anthony Szczesiul, chairman of the English Department

“Soonest Mended,” by John Ashbery

"This poem communicates something to me, even though I don't really understand it. It captures a certain poignancy about how we live in our current age of media saturation, consumerism and mediated experiences. "Soonest Mended" sees a sort of luminousness and beauty even in the mundane and ordinary state of day-to-day confusion in which we live our lives. I like the confusing shift in voices (we, I, you) and the way the poem moves from ordinary speech to wonderfully lyrical moments."

Anthia Mo
Anthia Mo, senior exercise physiology major

“Hornworm: Autumn Lamentation,” by Stanley Kunitz

"This poem really spoke out to me when we were going over it in Professor Dietz's class. The author of "Hornworm: Autumn Lamentation" wrote about a sad ending to something that was alive and wanted to live so badly. He gave the worm only two choices in life, both ending horribly. It made me think of my life and how I have so many more choices – and how I shouldn't waste it away."