Category: Poetry

NEH 2012 Jefferson Lecture: Wendell Barry

Kudos to the NEH for making inspiring lectures like this available online (it also streamed this live)

(I would have embedded the video, but I’m having a devil of a time disabling the autostart. Their embed code has no autostart variable, but I tried adding one and setting it to not play (play=”false”) along with other variations but none of my attempts have worked…)

Wendell Barry is one of those rare individuals who tries to walk his talk, inspiring the rest of us to also try. A write-up of the lecture appears here.

National Poetry Month’s Sweet 16

Although March ushers in spring, April knows how to celebrate the true springliness of the season. Poets, too, know how to celebrate it with gifts of poetry. April was designated as National Poetry Month back in 1996–it’s hard to believe that it’s so young. It is fitting, though, that it was inaugurated on April 1st, for its mission to promote awareness and appreciation of poetry was a sort of Fool’s venture–a venture that creates no money, capital, or any other sort of tangible gain except that earned through the pleasure of play, say, like a tickle. The “success” of the venture can be seen in how it has spread beyond the original creators, those folks over at the Academy of American Poets, to many other institutions as well as individuals (just google “national poetry month events”  to see a sampling). What I like about the “campaign” (besides the mission itself) is the way in which the web has helped it along. I came across this tie-in between Alfred A. Knopf Press and Tumblr encouraging people to participate in the celebration by submitting their own poems via Tumblr. I realize it’s a simple idea that has been done a thousand times over by other groups/events. But these sorts of small ideas lead to others. For instance, part of that same blog displays images of the poems on the printed page which I find more satisfying than just the text reproduced. In a way, that imaged printed page provides a context, like the scratchiness of albums pre-CD era, that the mere informational text cannot. For artists who feel technology is trying to explain away or mass-produce the mysteries of life, this is a small example of how it actually can help continue to share that mystery with others.

Poem: The Sound of the Trees

Happy 75th Birthday, Iowa Writer’s Workshop

MFA. Three letters that mean a world to writers new or experienced, though it’s difficult to put into words. Which is funny considering… And though the non-debate over the possibilities of being able to teach writing rages on (quietly), anyone in or has matriculated through an MFA program, owes their thanks to the Iowa Writer’s Workshop for its help in establishing, at the very least, an awareness of the importance of granting writers a place and time to write. And though I think this clip by PBS’s Newshour is very general, it does a good job at showing people a glimpse between the fence slots that line the backyards of some people who are trying to put their writing first in their lives and the difficulty that entails. My thanks to Pop for telling me about the piece.