September 19, 2007

Prompt: Asking Questions with William Blake

Doubt by William Blake

When I was looking in my Norton Anthology for another poem, I came across William Blake's poem "The Tyger."Almost everyone who has sat through a few years of English literature classes in high school or college has come across this poem. Being that I do not have a good memory for poems, it surprised me that I could remember portions of this poem. I think that I was once assigned it for memorization.

When I reread it, I also remembered what I had liked about the poem when I first read it. It was filled with questions and, more importantly, the poet didn't seem to be able to answer them any more than I could answer them. You could write a poem that asked questions but didn't come up with the answers? This was something new to me.

Some teacher must have taken me through the poem and discussed how the questions are in themselves a kind of answer to the main question of "What immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry." I doubt that God came up in my public school discussions, but then again it was a very different time - a time when having a Christmas tree in the classroom was considered the norm. In fact, would my teachers have suggested that some other method had produced the fearful symmetry?

For our September writing prompt at Poets Online, we are taking a shot at a poem that is almost all questions, but in the asking presents a kind of answer.

"William Blake (November 28, 1757 – August 12, 1827) was an English poet, visionary, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognized during his lifetime, Blake's work is today considered seminal and significant in the history of both poetry and the visual arts. While his visual art and written poetry are usually considered separately, Blake often employed them in concert to create a product that at once defied and superseded convention. Though he believed himself able to converse aloud with Old Testament prophets, and despite his work in illustrating the Book of Job, Blake's affection for the Bible was accompanied by hostility for the established Church, his beliefs modified by a fascination with Mysticism and the unfolding of the Romantic Movement around him."  excerpted from the Wikipedia entry on Blake

If you're interested in more about Blake's poems or artwork, try the Blake Archive.

September 1, 2007

Warren County Poetry Festival 2007

The Fifth Biennial Warren County Poetry Festival

FREE event
Saturday, September 29th
10 am-10pm

Blair Academy, Blairstown, New Jersey

Featured Poets

Linda Pastan (Poets Online writing prompts featuring Pastan poems prompt#1 prompt#2)
Eleanor Wilner
Kurtis Lamkin (writing prompt featuring Lamkin)

With readings by: Ron Block, Jean LeBlanc, Judith Michaels and Susanna Rich

Unofficial festival website

Kurtis Lamkin (left) with Sekou Sundiata at the 2006 Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival.