September 24, 2006

Poetry Festivals!

Two poetry festivals coming up in the next few weeks that I will be attending, and if you are in the NJ area, hopefully you'll be able to spend some time there too.

First up is THE festival of poetry festivals. The biennial Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival (#11) has been described as four days of "poetry heaven" (though I think it's more of a poetry Woodstock - a gathering of the tribe - especially on day one when it is filled with students).

It's Thursday, September 28 - Sunday, October 1 at Waterloo Village in Stanhope, NJ.

Some of the poets who will be there include:

  • Lucille Clifton
  • Billy Collins
  • Linda Pastan
  • Gerald Stern
  • Mark Doty
  • Kurtis Lamkin
  • Coleman Barks
  • Andrew Motion
  • Robert Bly
  • Taslima Nasreen
  • Toi Derricotte
  • Sekou Sundiata
  • Jorie Graham
  • Brian Turner
  • Linda Gregg
  • Ko Un
  • Tony Hoagland
  • Ann Waldman
  • Linda Hogan

The following weekend is the 4th Annual Walt Whitman Poetry Festival.

It's one day, Saturday, October 7, 2006, in Ocean Grove, New Jersey from 9:00AM to 5:30 and it's FREE.

The schedule includes featured poets, workshops, tutorials, panels (including one by editors about getting published) and open readings.

Check out the festival site at Poets Online for more information, directions and information on accomodations and other area attractions.

September 16, 2006

Poem After Reading...

Poems about reading a specific book? I first thought of the Keats sonnet which I know was in my high school Brit Lit anthology.

On First Looking into Chapman's Homer

Much have I traveled in the realms of gold
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet never did I breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then I felt like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific—and all his men
Looked at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
The poem I offered as a model on the site though was Tony Hoagland's poem "Reading Moby Dick at 30,000 Feet." It's a much more accessible poem for modern readers than Keats. Even if you never read Melville's Moby Dick, almost everyone has a sense of the plot, so the allusion is not lost. (Want some help with the Keat's poem? Try this page)

The prompt was to write a poem that centers on a specific experience of reading. The poem shouldn't be aout the act of reading in general, but focus on the connections between the book's content and the setting, characters and action around the reader.

There are some obvious comaparisons for Hoagland between Melville's ship of the sea and the airship, but his compariosons are far less obvious.

What about how he questions the sailors' quest

where men throw harpoons at something
much bigger and probably
better than themselves,

wanting to kill it,
wanting to see great clouds of blood erupt
to prove that they exist.
and then he wishes he were one of them.

Better to be on board the Pequod,
with a mad one-legged captain
living for revenge.

Better to feel the salt wind
spitting in your face,
to hold your sharpened weapon high,

to see the glisten
of the beast beneath the waves.
For another take on this poetry about reading, look at the very different "After Reading Tu Fu, I Go Outside to the Dwarf Orchard" by Charles Wright.