Bonnie & Clyde: American Gangsters and…Poets?

Well, maybe not Clyde so much, but gun-totin’ Bonnie Parker fancied herself something of a writer. Her interest in poetry began at a young age and in 1932, while incarcerated for a botched burglary, she penned a chapbook entitled Poetry from the Other Side. The ten handwritten poems brought even more sensationalized attention from the media, which was already crazy for the infamous duo.

“The End of the Line”–published as “The Story of Bonnie and Clyde” by the press–is Parker’s take on  the unjust nature of the law and society in general, especially in times as harsh as the Great Depression. In the sixteen-stanza poem, she denies accusations of crimes “they had no hand in,” then accurately predicts her own demise.

“Some day they’ll go down together;

And they’ll bury them side by side

To few it’ll be grief–

To the law a relief–

But it’s death for Bonnie and Clyde.”

While Parker was no Emily Dickinson–notwithstanding her fondness for dashes–her heartfelt ballad still echoes the sentiments of some artists today, who feel that the pressure of poverty and injustice force them into crime.

“They say an eye for an eye, we both lose our sight

And two wrongs don’t make a right

But when you been wrong and you know all along that it’s just one life

At what point does one fight? (Good question, right?!)”

–Jay-Z, “Justify My Thug

Beyoncé and Jay may be the self-appointed Bonnie & Clyde of ’03, but let’s not forget the original gangsters of ’30.

What’s the Greatest Snow Poem of All Time?

snow-covered-tree

It’s midwinter and we’re just wondering where you stand. Is the Greatest Snow Poem…

1) Emily Dickinson, “It sifts from Leaden Sieves -“

2) Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

3) Wallace Stevens, “The Snow Man”

4) Louis MacNeice, “Snow”

5) Snowgoons, “Black Snow”

or

6) The one you wrote in third grade, which Mom still keeps on the fridge?

Before you make your decision, read some savvy interpretations: all of the above are explained on Rap Genius. Yes, even #6—because, of course, you’ve already signed up for an RG verified account and are adding and explaining your work like a relentless blizzard.

UPDATE: One of our editors has suggested a dark horse candidate, William Carlos Williams’ “Blizzard,” now added and annotated on the site.

Bonus Dickinson: “To make a prairie”

Holiday bonus: Emily Dickinson’s “To make a prairie,” fully annotated over at Rap Genius. Enjoy, and happy Thanksgiving Eve.

NEW: Emily Dickinson, “The Brain — is wider than the Sky —”

Photo courtesy Amherst College Library.

New poem added/annotated: Emily Dickinson, “The Brain—is wider than the Sky—” (632). We quote this one in our header image, so we’re making it our first Featured Poem.

Dickinson had one of the most expansive minds in the history of poetry; also one of the weirdest. A skinny Congressman’s daughter from Amherst, Massachusetts, she stopped leaving the house in her thirties and devoted her entire adult life to writing. Scholars think she may have been gay, straight, or bi; had a crush on her sister-in-law, a famous judge, or God; suffered from epilepsy, manic depression, psychosomatic blindness, or all or none of the above.  At her peak, she cranked out great poems like some people crank out diary entries. (Or blog posts.)

More info on Dickinson at Poetry Foundation.

More info on Dickinson at The Academy of American Poets.

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