About

Poem Elf is a blog for lovers of poetry and mischief. Or maybe just mischief. You really don’t have to like poems to enjoy the postings. In fact my fantasy is to convert the poem-indifferent to poem-curious.

 

I myself like poems and secret tricks. Poem Elf is the place where I indulge both. It’s my version of  “The Elves and the Shoemaker” except instead of nighttime shoe-making I do secret poem-placings. Releasing poems from books and sending them out in the world becomes a conversation with mystery and beauty, as if there were a third elf in the story (and that would be me) whose job is to position the exquisite shoes just so for the cobbler and his wife to discover in the morning.

 

I’m not a poet and I’m not a scholar. My tastes are pretty simple. I like short-ish poems I can comprehend on the first reading but understand over a lifetime. The poems I pick are for everyone, not just for those who have a favorite poet but also for folks who last read a poem on a graduation card.

 

What happens to a poem after I leave it? Perhaps it lands in a trashcan, pulled down from a wall by an amused janitor; or it’s blown away from its scotch tape fastenings, picked up by a bird, and woven expertly into a nest; raked into a leaf pile and composted, helping things grow in a different way than I had intended; shoved in a back pocket, forgotten, and balled up in the wash; or, my best hope, tucked in a stranger’s wallet, pulled out from time to time, each reading bringing an expansion of sorts, each reading taken in like a drink to quench the deep thirst we all have for meaning and beauty.

58 Comments

  1. lynn rosen

    I would love to post some of the blogs to our facebook.. the photos and poems, mixed with your thoughts of lovely and colorful! Think about it..motherscenterbb on facebook

  2. mary ann salemi

    Dear Poem Elf,

    Your sister, Ceci, sent your blog to her book club. I am so happy that she did. I thoroughly enjoy the poems you choose and the insights you share. And your real world postings make me smile.

    Mary Ann

  3. Kelly

    Okay Poem Elf – you must publish these into a book. I love the poems and your analysis and personal stories – really touching and beautiful. That part about your mom and her memories of your dad – made me cry!

  4. Martha Britten

    This is a wonderful idea! I love it and I love your writing and of course the poems…. Much needed in the world today and what a blessing to find one of these poems taped up somewhere unexpected. Beautiful and good work!
    Your old friend from Bethesda, Peaches

  5. lynn

    i tried to send this a few times, let me try again:
    i am hooked on your site. i love how you take the poem physically and mentally out of the book; pasting it up somewhere and then your own ruminations. lynn

  6. lynn

    this continues to be utterly delightful! love the petoskey/bay view photographs, and the way you have used the poems with them. really fresh, thought provoking….lynn

    1. poemelf

      thanks, granny! (though you hardly look old enough to be one) I’m enjoying your site too….it’s like a big fun drawer full of things to look at and play with.

  7. Janet Rae

    I loved your “Flush with Joy” posting, and decided to go to Idiot Books as the back of my toilet sports only rocks and a dead orchid. I bought a few things (OK, quite a few things) and received the following email:

    Well Hello, Janet!

    Thank YOU. If you don’t mind my asking, who are you, and what in the world inspired you to send us so much of your money?

    We’re pleased, of course, but entirely baffled.

    These books will go in tomorrow’s mail.

    Thanks again!

    Matthew

    To which I replied:

    Hello — and what a charming email. I subscribe to the Poem Elf, and I read over your website (as she suggested), and was as intrigued as she suggested I would be. My nephew and his wife are about to have twins so the baby book (one of them) is for them. Do read the Poem Elf today.

    Now I am inspired to buy even more of their books — after all, how often is one personally thanked by an on-line store?

    Janet Rae

  8. tpowerstar

    What a delight to find your light hearted (yet meaningful) writings and musings.
    I am looking forward to reading more – not sure that I will agree with everything you say – but then you would not expect me to continually toe any line.

  9. Austin Starr

    wow, good for you! I love poetry, write some, read some. The idea of posting poems here and there — and your darling description of what might happen to them after you’ve done your deed — makes me smile. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  10. Kate

    Just read your comments on Edna St. Vincent Millay, and went through a like response, thought, appreciation of her poetry if not as much of her sequence, and am glad she wrote and totally admire her work.
    Also, I just signed onto your blog, having been told about it by a friend, who I cannot thank enough for leading me to it, as I will continually thank you for being the poem elf.

    1. poemelf

      Thanks so much for following and your kind words.

      I’m intrigued by your comment about Vincent Millay’s sequencing. Can you go into that a little more (if you happen to read this response)?

  11. Kit Staton

    You’ve a fascinating website. I just came upon it while searching online for Javier Gálvez’s “This Morning.” Your placing of poems in cityscapes or landscapes, where they may unexpectedly transform passers-by, is itself a poetic re-visioning of things. I think you’re doing a public service.

  12. Kit Staton

    Years ago I found a used paperback poetry text in our local dump. (The occasion was better than that sounds: there is a little shack at the dump, with shelving.) The book was Fine Frenzy: Enduring Themes in Poetry, Robert Baylor & Brenda Stokes, eds., MacGraw-Hill, 2nd edition, 1978.

    The book is listed on Amazon and other sites.

    BUT I still couldn’t find anything on Gálvez himself. The “Acknowledgments” section in Fine Frenzy has (inexplicably) nothing; specifically, there is a gap between Robert Frost and Langston Hughes, a gap where Javier Gálvez should be.

    I was looking online in the first place for “This Morning” because I was searching for a site (such as Garrison Keillor’s) that would let me share the poem … with my sister on her birthday. I was just being lazy, since after all I had a print copy of the poem; luckily I came across your site.

  13. poemelf

    Interesting, because that’s the exact same anthology I found the poem in when I was visiting my sister. An old college text of hers, maybe. Finding it at the dump is even better….a shack of shelves at the dump!….what a great way to share old books.
    I had the same experience of failing to find a bio on the poet anywhere. Galvez seems to exist in only that anthology!

    1. Kit Staton

      Well, a postscript to the mysterious Javier Gálvez. I went looking for more information, wound up contacting McGraw-Hill. Here is what I found out (identifiers removed):

      Hello. You are correct in that I am not the person who can help you, as I work in the ——- division of McGraw-Hill, not on the textbooks side. However, I did some research on the book to see if I could point you to the correct person who would work on it.
       
      Unfortunately, even if we were to get in touch with someone on the textbook side, there really isn’t any way they could remedy the situation. Fine Frenzy, the book that you are referring to, has been out of print since 1999. This means that the book has fallen out of use and the only copies that still exist are second-hand. There are no plans to reprint it, thus there is no way to alter the Acknowledgements or to make a correction.
       ––––––––––
      So I still know nothing about this poet. (I really wasn’t interested in corrections in any event, just wanted information.)

  14. audrey

    YOU ARE FANTASTIC! i do some similar projects in NYC – #poetsinthewildnyc for national poetry month (on fb, twitter, instagram) and here – tinyurl.com/compassproject, etc. let’s be friends! keep spreading your lit love and light! XO

    1. poemelf

      Audrey, How cool that we found each other. I love your round labels…the poems look great (visual presentation is something I don’t put a lot of time into and I should), and the poems themselves are short but meaty….just right for a hurried pedestrian who needs a little beauty in her day.

      I had trouble finding you on line…here’s a better link for interested readers: http://audreydimola.com/poetry-performance/compass-project-guerrilla-poetry/

      I’ll be following you on twitter to keep up with your work! Thanks for stopping by here.

  15. Jason Debly

    I have taken the liberty of referencing your delightful site on my blog. I have reproduced one image from one of your posts. I hope you don’t object. One of the images of a poem from your site has a disclaimer that the Poem Elf holds sole copyright to it. I trust this is acceptable.

  16. Ralph Adamo

    Hi –
    I don’t want to post a comment, but would like to suggest a few emendations to your commentary on Frank Stanford.Any way to do that without doing it as a public comment?
    (That asked, I appreciate what you’ve posted.)

    — Ralph Adamo

  17. Gert loveday

    Hey poem elf, I was just thinking this morning of the Milosz poem A Day So Happy, googled it and found your site. Great idea, what you do here, and I’ll come back to see what you’re up to

    1. poemelf

      Thanks for stopping by!

      You have the greatest (pen) name ever…and how lucky you are to be collaborating with a sister! I’ll be checking up on your site as well.

  18. lyndawn777

    What a wonderful idea for spreading joy, goodness around. Look out my little city and beyond on my travels too…Thanks a mill poemelf…I am a poet too…:-)

  19. zarana patel

    glad I found you, and this site (there is a difference). your found & shared poetry reminds me of this, read while gazing upon the wall of a rockety, rickety El train in Chicago:

    Foreclosure

    Tell em to take my bare walls down
    my cement abutments
    their parties thereof
    and clause of claws

    Leave me the land
    Scratch out: the land

    May prose and property both die out
    and leave me peace

    – Lorine Niedecker

  20. Esther

    Dear PoemElf,
    I love what you are doing! It´s very inspiring.
    In fact, I wanted to invite you to be a part of a small idea I launched this month, but I don´t want to write in public about it. Would you mind getting in touch with me?

    Enjoy your December!

    Esther~

  21. Pam Woolway

    This is such a generous activity. I love it and was delighted to meet you in person. You remind me of my favorite movie “Amalie.” Very elfin in nature and hilarious. A warm aloha!

  22. Jim Ellis

    TO THE POEM ELF

    It is wonderful
    what you do

    Your kindness and hope
    are noticed

    Leaving a typed poem
    on a supermarket shelf

    The poem on aging
    with the adult diapers

    Your blog which is
    thousands of years old

    – Jim Ellis

  23. Philip L. Kennedy

    Thanks so much, Tom. Both are treasures. Gratitude also for yips loving wisdom reflections…Love and a hug. Phil

  24. Silvia Mendino

    It was a pleasure to meeting you Maggie, I appreciate the time you share with us sharing your story about poems and novels you wrote, it’s interesting the way how you share them in the streets, stores, parks, not only on your blog. I had wonderful time listening to my classmates asking you some questions about you and your job. When I was my turn to interview, I was a little nervous but so exited. You’re a very kind, friendly and nice person. You should visit us frequently to our class to share a little more about you and what’s new in your life, job. Also I want to thank my teacher Ceci for this beautiful surprise, for the special guess.
    ☺️ Silvia Mendino 😊

    1. poemelf

      Silvia, I so enjoyed meeting you and your classmates today! All the questions made me think about what I do, and that’s always good to do, and the stories and interests everyone shared made me grateful to be a part of your group.
      Thank you for writing in your comments!

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