Friday, February 27, 2009

A Wee but Potent Thing

In the United States, a small collection of poems is published in a chapbook. In the United Kingdom, a small collection of poems is published in a pamphlet. Small here means anywhere from 18 to 28 poems, if most of the poems fit on one or two pages. Typically a chapbook will be no more than 30 pages altogether. In the U.S., the chapbook is not at all unusual. In the U.K., the pamphlet is finding its way back into acceptable circles. As this article by Jackie Kay in The Guardian points out, Ted Hughes made use of the pamphlet years ago. Here is an excerpt which doesn't mention Ted Hughes:

The poetry pamphlet has always been a good way for new poets to reach an audience. Many of today's well-known poets were first published in pamphlet form – or have at different times in their career enjoyed the delicacy and artistry of a small pamphlet. They are the connoisseur's version of a very tasty starter. Straight away, they give you a sense of somebody, an idea of their voice, just enough to make you know that you'd like more – or not. Oh My Rub!, for example, made me want to read more, as did many of the wonderful pamphlets published by Smith/Doorstop. (Poetry Business run by Peter Sansom et al has been doing great pamphlet work for years.)
Read the full article at The Guardian.

Many thanks to Carrie Etter who posted about the article in the Guardian at her blog.

Susan Settlemyre Williams has reviewed four chapbooks at Blackbird which is a joint venture of the Department of English at Virginia Commonwealth University and New Virginia Review, Inc. You can read the reviews online.




"It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
River Junction Poets Mission Statement

Sunday, February 22, 2009

202 Craft of Poetry

In the Fall of 1988, I was enrolled as an undergraduate at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. The University is just off interstate 75, about half an hour drive South from Toledo. The football stadium is visible from the highway.

One of the classes I took that Fall was English 202 Craft of Poetry. The teacher was John O'Connor. His father was also a faculty member there. His name, I think, was Phil O'Connor. Our teacher told us early on that he wanted the class to have a workshop feel to it. We were expected to engage each other with our poems and welcome constructive criticism from our classmates. I still have the texts that were required for this class:
The Morrow Anthology of Younger American Poets and Writing Poems by Robert Wallace with Foreward by X.J. Kennedy.

One of the assignments for this class was to select a book of poems by one poet and write about the poems in that book. Also to say whether we thought the book we chose was worth recommending to other readers. I wish I could remember the assignment details better than that. I do remember that the teacher announced to the class that he would look at an early draft once if we wanted and offer constructive criticism.

I chose the book by John Ashbery, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. I have a vague memory of showing him a draft of my essay which mentioned seven elements used variously throughout the poems. He said the categories were good ones and that it would be enough to provide an example of each element.

Recently, while I was looking for my 2007 tax return, I happened to find the essay I wrote for the poetry class in the Fall of 1988. I showed it to my friend Jack when we met to discuss the Ashbery poem "Voyage in the Blue" which is in the book Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. When he read my essay, Jack remarked that, back then, I read idiomatically. We agreed that that was probably the best reading strategy I knew at the time, and that's why I read those poems that way.
Mind you, in the Fall of 1988 I was 22 years old. I offer my essay here as an example of a young poet struggling to put things together. Here's what I came up with. The paper is dated October 19, 1988.

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, a book of poems by John Ashbery, has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The thirty-four poems in the book describe thoughts, systems of thought, emotions, and a few relationships with friends. Platonic thinking, existentialism, and the perception of time as a day-to-day prison of sorts appear and reappear in various poems; in the title poem, these things are considered as artistic expressions and as artistic tools. The impressive thing, I think, is that the author has taken it upon himself to consider and express what seems to me to be a vast quantity of information, and has assembled it consistentlhy and coherently.

Helping to keep coherence from one poem to the next are seven recurring elements. Typically, a poem will have from two to four elements helping to express the poet's meaning. The elements I identified, to be described subsequently, are as follows: the poet's personal expression, his personal view, the idea of encompassing, the discussing of the creative process, existential thinking, Platonic thinking, and what I call mental microprocessing.

The poet's personal expression is probably the most straightforward for me to describe, but probably the most difficult of the elements to understand. What I took to be direct personal expression appeared fairly often, in nearly half of the poems. Consider this brief poem, “Tarpaulin”:


Easing the thing

Into spurts of activity

Before the emptiness of late afternoon

Is a kind of will power

Blaring back its received vision

From a thousand tenement windows

Just before night

Its signal fading


The poems are usually three times this length; however, this is one of the few poems to employ no other element but personal expression.

What I call the personal view of the poet is one degree more sophisticated than personal expression. Personal view expresses a thoughtful opinion or observation of something that is, in all likelihood, important to the poet. This element appears nearly as often as that of personal expression. One poem, “Worsening Situation”, describes his opinion that our world continues to devolve when the attitude of “going along for the ride” (not a quote) prevails. But it really isn't that clear, because he asks “...what else is there?” besides riding along. Puzzling thoughts are frequent throughout the poems, and are expressed in a variety of ways.

Coalescing in poems with the idea of encompassing are the remaining elements; in order of the frequency in which they appear, they are: the discussing of the creative process, existential thinking, Platonic thinking, and what I call mental microprocessing. Mental microprocessing occurs least of all the elements; still, I think it is distinct and noteworthy.

In discussing the creative process, I felt involved in simply reading. Hopefully this excerpt from the beginning of “Oleum Misericordiae” will illustrate my meaning:


To rub it out, make it less virulent

And a stab at rearranging

The whole thing from the ground up.

Yes we were waiting just now.

Yes we are no longer waiting.


I found this element to be prominent in eight of the thirty-four poems. In six of the poems, I thought existential thinking was the most important. An example of this can be seen “Sheherezade”, near the end of the poem:


...it is we who make this

Jungle and call it space, naming each root,

Each serpent, for the sound of the name

As it clinks dully against our pleasure,

Indifference that is pleasure. ...


Four of the poems seemed to be primarily concerned with Platonic thinking. The first stanza of “All and Some”, I think, evinces this element:


And for those who understand:

We shifted that day, until there was no more

Coming out of the situation we had so imitated.

And now we had talked of it

Not as a human being, deeply polite and intelligent

Coming forward to speak things of dark concern

But as merely interesting description of itself.


The least used element, mental microprocessing, is dominant in “Grand Galop” and “Lithuanian Dance Band.” This element seems at first to ramble, but after considering it, I think the form may be an argument for the presence of a limit to that which can be expressed by an individual (after all, one can take in only so much information at a time). Here is a representative sample from “Lithuanian Dance Band”:


Nathan the Wise is a good title it's a reintroduction

Of heavy seeds attached by toggle switch to long hoops leading

Out of literature and life into worldly chaos in which

We struggle two souls out of work for it's a long way back to

The summation meanwhile we live in it “gradually getting used to”

Everything and this overrides living and is superimposed on it

As when a wounded jackal is tied to the waterhole the lion does come


The remainder of this poem is like this, a rambling run-on-sentence pregnant with thoughts and thinking.

The idea of encompassing appears in more than half of the poems, more than any other element. This idea brings together such things as the past, the present, and the future in one case; individuals and groups in another; existentialism and Platonic thinking in a third. Consider this example of the first case in “Hop `O My Thumb”:


... . No worse time to have come,

Yet all was desiring though already desired and past,

The moment a monument to itself

No one would ever see or know was there.


An example of the second case can be found in “De Imagine Mundi”. It begins thus:


The many as noticed by the one:

The noticed one, confusing itself with the many

Yet perceives itself as an individual

Travelling between two fixed points.


An example of a passage encompassing Platonic and existential thinking will be seen in the discussion of the title poem. The idea of encompassing is, I think, the one most important to the poet.

The last and title poem makes use of each element and makes a major combination of the elements of Platonic and existential thinking. The poem is in six sections, the last one being two to three times as long as the previous sections.

The first section is primarily the poet's personal view of a painting by Parmigianino. The painting is a portrait of the artist himself, as seen in a convex mirror. The diction here, as in all the poems, reveals a complexity of thought that kept me “on my toes”. The second section is primarily a personal expression of the poet's. Here he thinks of his friends and of his past. This section I thought was a little less interesting than the first. The third section expresses the idea of encompassing past, present, and future. The fourth section contains elements of encompassing as well as the discussing of the creative process. The fifth section is the poet's personal view of the very poem containing it. This is expressed by considering possible motives Parmigianino had in making the painting. The poet also considers the painter's abilities and limitations as an artist. The poet decides that his poem, like the self-portrait of the painter, is “... a metaphor/Made to include us, ...”. The sixth and final section of the title poem shows the bringing together of Platonic and existential thinking. Here is the best example of this that I could find:


... One is forced to read

The perfectly plausible accomplishment of a purpose

Into the smooth, perhaps even bland (but so

Enigmatic) finish. Is there anything

To be serious about beyond this otherness

That gets included in the most ordinary

Forms of daily activity, changing everything

Slightly and profoundly, and tearing the matter

Of creation, any creation, not just artistic creation

Out of our hands, to install it on some monstrous, near

Peak, too close to ignore, too far

For one to intervene? This otherness, this

“Not-being-us” is all there is to look at

In the mirror, though no one can say

How it came to be this way. ...


The careful reader should be able to recognize a similar expression in the sample provided as an example of mental microprocessing, the beginning of “Lithuanian Dance Band”.

The coherence of the whole I found to be amazing. The complexity of thought as revealed in the presentation of ideas and descriptions I thought was relentless and involved me as I read. Each poem seemed at least somewhat conversational; i.e., the poet describes, almost in an offhand way, his opinion on the variety of subjects present in the seven elements I identified in his poetry. I think this collection of poems is worthwhile reading.


Submitted October 19, 1988 in 202 Craft of Poetry, John O'Connor, Bowling Green State University. There are no comments from the teacher on the essay. There are some marks in the margins that look like plus signs. This paper earned an A- grade.


"It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
River Junction Poets Mission Statement

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Diane Lockward

Diane Lockward's poem "Linguini" was recently featured at Garrison Keillor's radio show "The Writer's Almanac". With generosity and good humor, Ms. Lockward writes at her blog about the poem. Here is an excerpt:

The idea for "Linguini" came when I read a poem called "The Blended Family," by Carol Potter. I found Potter's poem in [Winter 2003] Prairie Schooner. What I noticed about that poem was that each line ended with the word "spaghetti." I started thinking that I'd like to write a poem about linguini. Initially, I tried ending each line with that word. But soon I abandoned that effort as the poem took on its own life. It, too, wanted repetition, but the repetitions are scattered throughout the poem and in the different forms of pasta that appear. I seriously doubt that anyone would draw a connection between the two poems, but I remain grateful to Potter for her poem which served as my muse.

And now I'm thinking I might like to try a poem about ravioli.
Read the full blog entry at blogalicious.

Read a nice interview with Diane Lockward at Eclectica.


"It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
River Junction Poets Mission Statement

Mark Doty Contributes at AWP


Mark Doty, recent winner of the National Book Award for fire to fire, contributed to a panel discussion at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference in Chicago. He has since generously published his comments at his blog. Here is an excerpt from that contribution:

. . . I left high school when I couldn't stand it any more and signed up at the University of Arizona, where they didn't find out for a while that I had no high school diploma and didn't seem too worried about it when they did. I went right to the poetry workshops, which I loved. We read a very specific group of poets, who were writing the fashionable poems of the day. They were neo-surrealists, or the later flowering of deep imagists, and they were largely men: Robert Bly, James Wright, Galway Kinnell, Mark Strand, W. S. Merwin, and my teacher Richard Shelton. I very much wanted to write in this mode, but it wasn't because I wanted to imitate them, but rather a larger matter than that: I thought that's what poetry was. We did not read, for instance, Robert Lowell, or Mina Loy, to name just two of a great number of poets who'd have thoroughly messed up our parochial vision of the art.
Read Mark's contribution in full at his blog.

I appreciate his honesty. Take heart, beginning poets. Learn from your imitations. Read more poetry. Listen to people as they talk about poetry. Tell them what you think about poetry. Expect to grow. And keep at it.


"It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
River Junction Poets Mission Statement

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Stephen Dobyns

Stephen Dobyns was born in Orange, New Jersey, in 1941. He graduated from Wayne State University and has an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. Dobyns has published ten books of poetry and twenty novels. His books of poetry include Pallbearers Envying the One Who Rides (Penguin, 1999); Common Carnage (1996); Velocities: New and Selected Poems, 1966-1992 (1994); Cemetery Nights (1987), which won a Melville Cane Award; Black Dog, Red Dog (1984), which was a winner in the National Poetry Series; Heat Death (1980); and Concurring Beasts (1972), which was the 1972 Lamont Poetry Selection of The Academy of American Poets. His most recent novels are Boy in the Water (Holt/Metropolitan, 1999), The Church of Dead Girls (1997), Saratoga Fleshpot (1995), The Wrestler's Cruel Study (1993), and Saratoga Haunting (1993). His novels have been translated into more than ten languages. Dobyns is also the author of a collection of short stories, Eating Naked (2000) and a book of essays, Best Words, Best Order (1996). Among his many honors and awards are fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. He has taught at a number of colleges and universities, including the University of Iowa and Boston University. Stephen Dobyns lives in Boston with his wife and three children.
From http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/743 accessed 2/15/09

[Dobyns] was born on February 19, 1941 in Orange, New Jersey to Lester L., a minister, and Barbara Johnston Dobyns. Dobyns was raised in New Jersey, Michigan, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. He was educated at Shimer College, graduated from Wayne State University, and received an MFA from the University of Iowa in 1967. He worked as a reporter for the Detroit News.
He has taught at various academic institutions, including Sarah Lawrence College, the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers, the University of Iowa, Syracuse University, and Boston University.

As a professor of English at Syracuse University, he was involved in a sexual discrimination scandal. Francine Prose defended him with faint damning of his accuser and the neo-Victorian victim-feminism policies of the school in an article that cast all parties in an unflattering light.
Dobyns' poems are deeply personal, precise renderings of a speaker informed by but not limited to his [Dobyns'] experience. Though the personae in the individual poems differ, they blend together in the collections to act as a voice in wonder of the beauty and cruelty of the world we live in. One might gather that, to Dobyns, the world is a woman he falls in love with who breaks his heart but who is so beautiful that he must fall in love with her again and again.

In much of his poetry and some works of non-genre fiction, Dobyns employs extended tropes, using the ridiculous and the absurd as vehicles to introduce more profound meditations on life, love, and art. He does not shy from the low, nor from the sublime, and all in a straightforward narrative voice of reason. This voice is strongly informed by his journalistic training.

For example, in the poem "Missed Chances" in Cemetery Nights, the nameless speaker wanders through a metaphorical city in which those who missed their big opportunities futilely rehearse for when that moment will next arrive.

His poetic works count among them the 1971 Lamont Poetry Selection (Concurring Beasts), a National Poetry Series award winner, and a Melville Cane Award winner (Cemetery Nights).
Excerpted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Dobyns accessed 2/15/09

Yellow Beak by Stephen Dobyns
A man owns a green parrot with a yellow beak
that he carries on his shoulder each day to work.
He runs a pet shop and the parrot is his trademark.

Each morning the man winds his way from his bus
through the square, four or five blocks. There goes
the parrot, people say. Then at night, he comes back.

The man himself is nondescript—a little overweight,
thinning hair of no color at all. It's like the parrot owns
the man, not the reverse. Then one day the man dies.

He was old. It was bound to happen. At first people
feel mildly upset. The butcher thinks he has forgotten
a customer who owes him money. The baker thinks

he's catching a cold. Soon they get it right—the parrot
is gone. Time seems out of sorts, but sets itself straight
as people forget. Then years later the fellow who ran

the diner wakes from a dream where he saw the parrot
flying along all by itself, flapping by in the morning
and cruising back home at night. Those were the years

of the man's marriage, the start of his family, the years
when the muddle of his life began to work itself out;
and it's as if the parrot were at the root of it all, linking

the days like pearls on a string. Foolish of course, but
do you see how it might happen? We wake at night
and recall an event that seems to define a fixed period

of time, perhaps the memory of a beat-up bike we had
as a kid, or a particular chair where we sat and laughed
with friends; a house, a book, a piece of music, even

a green parrot winding its way through city streets.
And do you see that bubble of air balanced at the tip
of its yellow beak? That's the time in which we lived.
From http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16845 accessed 2/15/09

ASIDE: In your poem, "Bleeder," the perverse desire to make and watch a hemophiliac bleed provides a group of kids at a summer camp for retarded and crippled children a moment of shared meanness, a temporary escape from private spite. I'm interested in cruelty, the suffering, the spectacle, as used to unite people, and as very religious dimension, and reminds us that communion is a coming together to re-experience the suffering of Christ. Would you speak of this poem, which seems critical to the religious dimension that is operating in your work?

Dobyns: For two summers when I was fifteen and sixteen, or was it fourteen, fifteen and sixteen, I worked at crippled children's camps in Pennsylvania. They were camps run by the Easter Seal Foundation. Both lasted eight weeks. The first summer I was paid fifty dollars for eight weeks. The next summer I got a ten-dollar raise, I got sixty dollars plus my room and board. It was something that the first five minutes of, when the kids arrived, was horrifying, because they were so crippled. Many of them had polio; there'd be braces, and kids who were mobile. There was another camp for people who were not mobile at all. But many were crippled; many had Down's syndrome. They didn't call them that at this point; they were called mongoloids. Others were hemophiliac. Kids from the age of six to twenty, actually. And then you began to deal with it. After five minutes they were human beings. You stopped seeing their limitations, their physical limitations.

That's one part of the answer. Another part of the answer is, after I finished writing, I spoke of the Balthus Poems, which precedes the book Black Dog, Red Dog, from which the poem "Bleeder" comes. I found myself wondering, "Whom am I writing for?" What do I see, what do I expect from the things that I say? I realized that part of me was still writing for that grade school teacher, from whom I learned writing. Miss Day was a great woman from East Lansing Michigan. She had a pet canary in the classroom and if you were a good kid you got to take the canary home on the weekend. I never got to take the canary home on the weekend. She made us all sign the pledge that we would never smoke or never drink. I went home and tore up a carton of my parents' Camel cigarettes, which irritated them immensely. And I poured out a bottle of sherry. At nine years old I was tough. I had a moral fiber that you couldn't break with a Swiss Army knife.

I realized that part of me was writing to be liked. I was censoring my writing - that I wanted the reader to think that this writer is sensitive thoughtful, responsible - a good citizen. I realized that this was really destroying my writing. That it was inserting in that process an act of censorship, that I was making a judgment within the act of writing of what was proper material, what was improper material, what was a proper approach, what was a proper tone, what was a proper subject matter, etcetera. So, in Black Dog, Red Dog, I try and overturn that urge, and take subjects from everything.
And "The Bleeder" becomes part of that honest exploration. Here's this innocent kid, who is a severe hemophiliac who comes to this camp and who can't do anything. The camp has taken him by mistake. He gets the slightest cut; he'll just drain out like a broken Coke bottle. So he's put in safe places. Well, if you're in the woods of Pennsylvania, there are not a lot of safe places. Suddenly, you realize that you and everyone else would just like to see it happen. What would happen? This perverse "what would happen if he started to bleed? Wouldn't that be interesting? I mean, take this out of any morality, what would happen? And you realize that you and everyone else are thinking the same thought. And you feel immensely guilty--"Oh, God, I shouldn't think this. I should never think this. What an awful thing to think." "Wouldn't it be interesting to see him bleed? No! Don't say that again!" The poem is not the event; the poem is taking that event and turning it into something else. And the actual events of the poem did not occur except the fact that there was a hemophiliac in this camp.

Well, for me, in the writing of that poem, I had to get away from any sense of "Jesus, they're going to think ill of me for this. They're going to think that I was the person. My stock's going to go down. They're going to think, I may not get that gold star next to my name, after all." The poem also was written in a kind of loose blank verse. More blank verse than I'd tried before. And trying to give the subject matter, the kind of, if I can call it that, roughness, antagonism, and soften nature of the subject matter with an iambic pentameter, a loose iambic pentameter.
Excerpted from http://www.alsopreview.com/aside/dobyns.html accessed 2/15/09.

Over a cup of coffee by Stephen Dobyns

Over a cup of coffee or sitting on a park bench or
walking the dog, he would recall some incident
from his youth—nothing significant—climbing a tree
in his backyard, waiting in left field for a batter's
swing, sitting in a parked car with a girl whose face
he no longer remembered, his hand on her breast
and his body electric; memories to look at with
curiosity, the harmless behavior of a stranger, with
nothing to regret or elicit particular joy. And
although he had no sense of being on a journey,
such memories made him realize how far he had
traveled, which, in turn, made him ask how he
would look back on the person he was now, this
person who seemed so substantial. These images, it
was like looking at a book of old photographs,
recognizing a forehead, the narrow chin, and
perhaps recalling the story of an older second
cousin, how he had left long ago to try his luck in
Argentina or Australia. And he saw that he was
becoming like such a person, that the day might
arrive when he would look back on his present self
as on a distant relative who had drifted off into
uncharted lands.

From http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id=30558 accessed 2/15/09

Poetry critic Ralph J. Mills, Jr. suggested that Dobyns's verse contains "wit, intelligence and surrealist obliquity . . . [and] these dimensions of his work are sustained throughout. . . . Dobyns's combination of humor and the bizarre or sinister displays itself most obviously—and to considerable effect—in his socio-political poems, where the odd, seemingly irrational constructions match with terrifying rightness the absurdity and violence of our public life, our foreign wars." Assessing Dobyns's Lamont poetry selection, Concurring Beasts, Saturday Review contributor Robert D. Spector wrote: "Dobyns looks warily at the chaotic world, dislikes what he sees, and responds to its disorder in crisply controlled verse keyed to a sardonic wit one scale above cynicism." In the New York Times Rook Review, Andy Brumer praised Black Dog, Red Dog, the 1984 National Poetry Series winner: "While many of the poems have the illusion of an almost documentary objectivity, they reveal instead the soulful confessions of one individual in turmoil. . . . This is a harrowing book, not meant to please but to instruct."
Excerpted from http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poet.html?id=1804 accessed 2/15/09

It’s Like This by Stephen Dobyns for Peter Parrish

Each morning the man rises from bed because the invisible
cord leading from his neck to someplace in the dark,
the cord that makes him always dissatisfied,
has been wound tighter and tighter until he wakes.

He greets his family, looking for himself in their eyes,
but instead he sees shorter or taller men, men with
different degrees of anger or love, the kind of men
that people who hardly know him often mistake
for him, leaving a movie or running to catch a bus.

He has a job that he goes to. It could be at a bank
or a library or turning a piece of flat land
into a ditch. All day something that refuses to
show itself hovers at the corner of his eye,
like a name he is trying to remember, like
expecting a touch on the shoulder, as if someone
were about to embrace him, a woman in a blue dress
whom he has never met, would never meet again.
And it seems the purpose of each day’s labor
is simply to bring this mystery to focus. He can
almost describe it, as if it were a figure at the edge
of a burning field with smoke swirling around it
like white curtains shot full of wind and light.

When he returns home, he studies the eyes of his family to see
what person he should be that evening. He wants to say:
All day I have been listening, all day I have felt
I stood on the brink of something amazing.
But he says nothing, and his family walks around him
as if he were a stick leaning against a wall.

Late in the evening the cord around his neck draws him to bed.
He is consoled by the coolness of sheets, pressure
of blankets. He turns to the wall, and as water
drains from a sink so his daily mind slips from him.
Then sleep rises before him like a woman in a blue dress,
and darkness puts its arms around him, embracing him.
Be true to me, it says, each night you belong to me more,
until at last I lift you up and wrap you within me.

From http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id=23627 accessed 2/15/09



"It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
River Junction Poets Mission Statement

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Theodore Roethke: Where Do The Roots Go?

Theodore Roethke, born and raised in Saginaw, Michigan, is Michigan's only Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. The River Junction Poets, Saginaw's poetry group, narrate this video introduction to the man and his poetry. Additional contributors include Keith Taylor, Jim Crissman, Jay Steelstra, Chet Rogoza, Al Hellus, Jeff Danhoff, Pam Stump and Diane Hobson. This video took 2nd place in the 2001 Philo T. Farnsworth regional video competition in the documentary category. The video was recorded in Saginaw and edited at Midland Community Television in Midland, MI. Many thanks to Mary Ellen Roethke for access to the family photos.





















"It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
River Junction Poets Mission Statement

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Situation of Poetry Readings

Tree Risener wrote in her blog about poetry readings and her attitude toward them - as a participant and as an audience. She posted "Poetry Readings as Sacred Space" in October of 2008. Here is an excerpt:

Readings, whether in subterranean drippy caverns or lofty rooms where through Palladian windows you see the tops of trees, are sacred places, where we gather to enact over and over the rituals that we hope will open the numinous to us, even as do churches, theatres and maternity wards full of newborn babies.

Read the full post here.

If you haven't been to a poetry reading, what are you waiting for?



"It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
River Junction Poets Mission Statement