Times Op-Ed poetry? Readers say yes -- and more, please!

The Times sought Op-Ed poems, and would-be poets responded -- and so did readers of the section Sunday.
The Times sought Op-Ed poems, and would-be poets responded -- and so did readers of the section Sunday.
(Anthony Russo / For The Times)

In Sunday’s Op-Ed pages, a selection of Times readers had their literary talents put on display in “Rhyme and reason,” a page-plus of original poetry.

As opinion editors Susan Brenneman, Cherry Gee and Sue Horton explained:

“Who knew? When we put out a call for Op-Ed poetry, we had no idea how many budding poets were out there. But by the time the Aug. 16 deadline rolled around, we’d gotten more than 1,500 submissions, many of them including multiple poems….


How do you judge opinion poetry? That’s something we grappled with. Literary quality was important. But so were newsworthiness. Clarity of argument. Humor didn’t hurt either. The poems we selected are certainly representative of what we received, and we think each of them makes a strong point with eloquence — and sometimes with wit. We hope you enjoy them.”

Judging by the emails, many readers did indeed. Among the enthusiastic and pointed responses.

Barbara Frank Shafer of Los Angeles wrote in graciously to say:

“To the three editors who bravely sifted through 1,500 poetry submissions, thank you for your hard work and excellent choices. The poetic expression of strong opinions carries a unique impact.

“You’ve probably created many new poetry lovers by publishing the word gems that all those talented writers created. It was an inspiration to discover that we’re surrounded by so many unsung poets. Here’s hoping that this becomes an L.A. Times annual event.”

Jack Buss in Banning, who identified himself as “not a poet, playwright, author or much of anything else -- just retired and having a great time,” offered:


“After reading the results of the call you put out for Op-Ed poetry,

I have got to be the luckiest guy alive.

I’m not mad at anyone, have good health and

Am glad to be alive,

I’m eighty-two and headed for ninety-five.”

Stephanie Flood of Fallbrook cited one piece in particular:

“I very much enjoyed the poetry opinions this Sunday, especially the humorous ones. But ‘Serving’ brought tears to my eyes.”

Susan Alef Hodgson of Burbank offered suggestions in kind:

“The Times once put out a request

For poets to email their best

So poems were sent

Some sharp and some bent

And God only knows ‘bout the rest

Only a few were selected

To be printed, though many collected

Now all writers know

It is natural, though

When your very best work is rejected

But the Times should be courteous choosers!

And email regrets to the losers!

In a decade or less

There’ll be no more press!

So be nice and hang on to us ‘news-ers!’ ”

Kurt Toppel of Pacific Palisades hoped for different ground rules next time:

“While I commend the L.A. Times for creating such a section and encouraging the creative juices to flow, I think the selection may have to be done by a wider and more far-reaching body of evaluators. While many of the published entries are interesting and thought-provoking writings, they are not stated ‘opinions’ as defined by Webster’s.”

Claryce Russell, also of Pacific Palisades, looked ahead:

“Thank you for

the poems so great,

they got to the core,

and they did express my moods of late.

Loss and anger so well relayed.

but lovely verses displayed

even added hope with laughter

and now I can see some good hereafter.”

And in Seal Beach, David Philips summed it up most succinctly:

“Please, run Op-Ed poetry again. Please?”


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