Tag Archives: Poetry

Young poet envisions “a world worth building!”

These days my head has been teeming with images of the many faces of Resistance – mostly the ways in which people of good will have gathered to blend their skills and societal commitment to share truth, experiences and opinions — eventually, to take arms (or voice, or knitting needles, laptop, paint brush, cello, chisel or camera) to oppose – and end – the “sea of troubles” in which the nation is floundering.

The splash this weekend has been news of Amanda Gorman, a young woman whose powerful presence and poetry have taken the nation by storm.  As the first National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda was omnipresent in the media as she spoke out at last weekend’s Social Good Summit.

Learn more about this powerful young woman of words — and listen to her message — here: http://mashable.com/2017/09/17/amanda-gorman-us-youth-poet-laureate-social-good/#ydD41XQL_iqg.  Or read this piece about Amanda and the National Youth Poet Laureate title here: https://www.pw.org/content/amanda_gorman_named_national_youth_poet_laureate

Because Amanda is the first to wear the laurel wreath as National Youth Poet Laureate it’s important to know more about the backstory of the initiative.  The project itself reflects the vision of Urban Word, a “youth literary arts and youth development organization” whose mission is “to elevate the voices of teens while promoting civic engagement and social justice.”  (http://urbanwordnyc.org) The project places youth in “spaces of power” where they can “creatively respond to the litany of social and political factors that impact their cities and their lives.”  https://www.pw.org/content/amanda_gorman_named_national_youth_poet_laureate

Last month, the youthful Poet Laureate met with the Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden and staff of the Poetry and Literature Staff of the Library of Congress. The description of that informal gathering, prepared by LC staffer Anne Holmes, offers a thoughtful overview of the Youth Poet Laureate initiative and insights about Amanda’s experience. You’ll feel the flicker of hope springing eternal: https://blogs.loc.gov/catbird/2017/07/amanda-gorman-inaugural-national-youth-poet-laureate/

Reflecting on her experience as a participant in the Social Good Summit, Amanda shared these elegant words with Summit attendees:

With one microphone, we streak/ across the globe like an eclipse. We strike our plans into stone/ and from this we build a summit worth climbing, / a goal worth reaching, / a world worth building.”


National Poetry Month Celebrates Poetry of, by and for The People

Archibald MacLeish once said of poets that “there is nothing worse for our trade than to be in style.”  At the risk of rendering poetry and poets stylish, the Academy of American Poets for the past twenty years has led the nation in the celebration of April as National Poetry Month.  (http://www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/41)

T.S. Eliot’s line about the “cruelest month”  drones like a mantra as the winter of  ’14 creeps on to remind us Who real is The Boss.  Still, the wonder of poetry is that more than any art form it can enhance any mood – whether we’re grumping about the endless winter, pondering the human condition, or celebrating the almost imperceptible inklings of Spring, poetry has the power to share the spirit.

How to celebrate National Poetry Month?

Start with Poets.org (http://www.poets.org), the website of the Academy of American Poets, where you will unearth a treasure trove of delightful ideas ready to bloom in your head and hands – there’s Poetry in Your Pocket Day (April 24), find a poem a day in your email, or submit your own thoughts about poems that have had meaning in your life.

If you would like the share the joy of poetry of young people, you will find a rich resource center for teachers and parents.  For example, aspiring bards can watch videos of contemporary poets reading and talking about their work, then write and submit their own poems, describing how and by whom they were inspired.

Check the poetry map for an incredible collection of each state’s poetry organizations, journals, well-known poets past and present, and much more.

And there’s a calendar of Poetry Month activities that can keep you busy 24/7.

Of course there’s an app that will deliver daily poetry readings to your desktop or earpiece of choice.

David R. Godine, Publisher, is celebrating with a daily giveaway of Godine and Black Sparrow titles.  Catch Godine’s daily Twitter (@GodinePub) for the publisher’s daily contest, Q&A about general poetry and publishing, especially histories of the publishers.  Daily winners can select their favorite library which will be entered into a drawing for a curated collection Black Sparrow poetry titles.

The venerable publisher Alfred A. Knopf sponsors the “Portray Your Love of Poetry” contest.  Submit a photo, drawing or other visual representation of poems that inspire you.  Find Knopf on Facebook, upload your image, fill out the entry form which will pop up in the voting gallery.  Winners receive a packet of new poetry books from Knopf.

Ever a rich resource of all things poetic, the Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org) continues to expand their audio and video holdings including numerous online podcast discussions of poets and poetry.  Naturally, there is an app for that, too….During National Poetry Month the Foundation is featuring an audio series of poets discussing their art.

The list goes – and any one of these starting points will lead you into a world of literary wonders beyond belief.

When you do extricate yourself from the websites, consider turning your own hand at  ars poetica – doggerel counts.   Or possibly indulge yourself by taking time to re-read or listen to a well-wrought rendition of The Wasteland.











John Berryman Remembered at Book House Celebration

The Book House in Dinkytown offers an evening of poetry, reminiscence and shared experience for those who knew, who remember and who read and relish the poetry of John Berryman the Minnesota bard who taught hundreds of University of Minnesota students the lasting love of good poetry.  Berryman, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for his book of poetry, 77 Dream Songs, taught at the U of M from 1955 until his death in 1972.


John Berryman: Poet and Teacher, A Celebration is Thursday, February 17, 7:00 p.m. in the Red Room at the Loring Pasta Bar, 327 14th Avenue SE, in Beautiful Downtown Dinkytown.  The evening includes readings by actor and writer Ben Kreilkamp who will read from a selection of Berrryman’s writings and a rare opportunity to hear a recording of Berryman audiotapes.


A circle of Berryman’s friends, students and colleagues will reminiscence about his life and his work.  The circle includes Judy Koll Healey, Michael Dennis Browne, Michael Mann, Patricia Kirkpatrick, Kate Donahue, and Richard Kelly who cataloged the papers of Berryman for the University of Minnesota Libraries.


The Book House will also feature a display of photocopied manuscript materials from the U of M Andersen archives; the manuscripts highlight the ways in which Dream Songs evolved from scraps of paper to typescripts ready for submission to the publisher.


The Celebration is free and open. Contact the Book House in Dinkytown at 612 331 1043 or ourbookhouseindinkytown@gmail.com.


Does poetry matter — really? how?

Once again the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center takes on an imponderable.  The Great American Think-Off topic for 2011 is “Does Poetry Matter?”

To this English major the answer seems obvious – till one thinks deep.

Guidelines note that “judges are looking for essays that address the value and usefulness of poetry by speaking about personal experience rather than abstract philosophical reasoning.”  Ah, there’s the rub.

The contest involves far more thinking than paper work.  Submit an essay of 750 words or fewer by April 1 – send the essay by email, USPS or online.  No admission fee and a financial incentive of $500 cash plus travel and lodging to/in New York Mills for four finalist essay winners who will be invited to participate in the final debate in June.

The winter of 2011 offers an irresistible opportunity think deep and long.  Poetry seems like a most worthy topic for cogitation.

Though there are lots of details on the competition past and present on The Great American Think-Off website,  don’t let the prose distract you – focus like the proverbial laser on the theme!