San Angelo Writers Club

Best Writing in West Texas

Laurence Musgrove

Laurence Musgrove

At the January 8th meeting, Dr. Laurence Musgrove, author of books of poetry and chair of the Angelo State University Department of English, presented “The Five Sources of Beauty in Poetry.”

Musgrove began by listing the five sources: shape, line, voice, repetition, and analogy. It is usually easy to spot poetry on the page: it is not a solid block of text like prose. Poetry on the page takes different shapes: long lines that extend almost across the page or skinny lines snaking down the page or lining the edges. The shape of the poem often hints at its style. Long lines implying perhaps description or observation, short lines providing contrast or emotion.

The nature of the individual line of poetry can also be revealing: lines can simply end, but the poem continue on the next line. Each line might be a complete sentence, ending in a period. A stanza or an entire poem might be one long articulation, a blast of stream of consciousness.

Rapt Audience

The voice of the poem relates to the speaker: young, old, sad, hopeful. A poem can also be voiced by the reader and so convey the emotion and beauty set out by the writer.

Repetition is a tool like that of the refrain of a country song. It reinforces some idea periodically. A poem could examine a situation from different points of view but be anchored by the same line or lines repeated throughout.

Making a Poin

Analogy is a powerful tool for poetry; a tool to understand one thing in the essence of another.

from Metta Meditation
How your breath moves in and out,
Wave after wave breaking upon
The beachfront of your upper lip.

Musgrove read several poems and passed out three as handouts: two of his own, Metta Meditation and Happy with That, and one by Maggie Smith, Good Bones. Musgrove recommended three books of accessible modern poetry, Good Poems edited by Garrison Kellor, Best American Poety, an anthology published annually, and Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry edited by Billy Collins. The “180” in the title refers to a 180 degree turn, a turning back (there are also 180 poems in the collection).

Musgrove brought hard copies of several of his books: One Kind of Recording, Aphorisms, Local Bird, Texas Weather, and Still There: Poems with Dogs. All of these titles are available on Amazon.

Laurence Musgrove (center) and the SAWC audience.


  1. I enjoyed listening to Dr. Musgrove’s presentation on poetry; I also enjoy his book,{Local Bird}. His poem, “In The Garden Of My Students” gave insight of a teacher’s world observing their, {or his} students from a perch, {pun intended}, classifying their demeanor. Saying this, I feel I can say one must truly care, even when realizing, as the last line denotes, “And one or two will wing”
    The book is dotted with classroom humor, home-spun memories, philosophical tones, overall, just a damn good book!
    I also paid attention to the “analogy” statements which I used in my little re-write book, oh, and I did sit in front of the class paying the utmost attention!
    In my case I may be too old to wing!

  2. Never too late to wing!

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