March 29, 2011 |
A few days ago, the Guardian in London boldly put out a list of the top 10 American poems. It was sobering reading, largely because only one of the poets is still alive. John Ashbery, a masterly wordsmith, is 83. He was born the same year as the present U.S. poet laureate, whom I am certain only a tiny percentage of us could name. Can you? Did you know we had one? It's William Stanley Merwin - a wonderful, if sometimes opaque, poet, who lived in Scranton from the age of 11, but moved to Hawaii in the 1970s.
October 30, 1998 |
Ted Hughes, revered in Britain for his literary brilliance but better known in the United States for his failed marriage to Sylvia Plath, has died in England at age 68. Mr. Hughes, the poet laureate of England, succumbed to cancer Wednesday at his home in Devon, according to an announcement from his publisher, Faber & Faber. The cancer was discovered 18 months ago, but Mr. Hughes kept the diagnosis quiet. Roger Straus, president of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Mr. Hughes' American publisher, issued a statement calling Mr. Hughes' death "a loss to all lovers of poetry on both sides of the Atlantic.
January 10, 1999 |
THE SOUNDS OF POETRY A POETRY GUIDE BY ROBERT PINSKY FARRAR, STRAUS & GIROUX. 129 PP. $16 Everyone knows that poetry today is not a "herd" art - popular mass-market stuff, an essential ration of the near-21st-century citizen. If the sign of an unappreciated item in modern culture is that it thrives more as metaphor than as itself, then poetry - invoked by sportscasters cheering a linebacker's "poetry in motion," or pundits admiring the "Beltway poetry" of a political payback - deserves its morose self-doubt.
January 19, 2003 |
It may be that wherever he goes, New Jersey's poet laureate Amiri Baraka is there to oppose popular consensus. Even yesterday, as he spoke at a breakfast honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and sponsored by the Burlington County chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Baraka, 68, said he never really understood Dr. King's teachings until 10 years ago. But this crowd had come to hear what Baraka had to say. So there were...
June 3, 2001 |
Poet Deidra Greenleaf Allan never thought much about the ways a mother fails her children, at least not in any concrete way, until she found some bird skeletons in her attic. Seeing their tiny bones and claws and beaks made her wonder what had gone wrong. What measures did the desperate mother take to try to save her little ones in their suffocating attic prison? "I was empathizing with her, trying so hard to do good for her children," said Allan, who eventually set her thoughts to verse in a poem called History.
March 7, 1996 |
Ed Galing gently unfolds a crumbling, yellowed piece of newspaper, tenuously held together by sallow strips of Scotch tape. It is the first piece of writing by the newly crowned poet laureate of Hatboro that appeared in a newspaper. It was published in 1945 in Stars and Stripes when Galing was a young soldier in Europe. He has come a long way. Galing was declared the poet laureate of Hatboro in late February, despite the fact that he is technically a resident of Upper Moreland.
May 16, 1999 |
With stylish eyeglasses framing her bright, round face, a knit cap hiding her hair, and a red African scarf tumbling from her neck, 23-year-old Yolanda Wisher looks very unlike the staid image of "the old guy who writes poetry" with which she grew up. But Wisher writes poetry, too - well enough to have edged out 82 others last month to become Montgomery County's first poet laureate. And the Upper Gwynedd native - whose works draw inspiration from such disparate sources as Alice Walker, Earth Wind & Fire, and the conversations she overhears in her West Philadelphia neighborhood - plans to spend the summer teaching local students that poetry is more accessible than they might think.
May 23, 2004 |
A television special about the Triangle Waist Co. fire in 1911 moved Teresa Mendez-Quigley to write a poem called "Winged Victory. " Based on the reported leap of a husband and wife from a factory window in New York, the poem is Mendez-Quigley's imagined account of the couple's last moments together. "How difficult it must have been," Mendez-Quigley said last week, her sympathy rekindled as she recalled the doomed pair. "They kissed and then jumped. " Mendez-Quigley, who lives in Erdenheim, was selected recently as the 2004 Montgomery County poet laureate.
October 25, 1995 |
Slightly rumpled after his flight from California, Robert Hass listens open-mouthed to his own introduction. And rises to the podium, it seems, shyly. And wrestles a sheaf of poems out of his bag. The first time he came to Washington, he was a young war protester, here to help levitate the Pentagon. This time, he is the poet laureate of the United States. Part Zen, part Catholic, unruly haired, ruddy-faced, father, grandfather, he has been teaching more than half his life, now at Berkeley.
May 29, 1988 |
While other homemakers grab a few minutes of relaxation by curling up with the latest best seller or catching up on a favorite soap opera, Rose Mary Gerlach of East Bradford steals away to a quiet corner and "scribbles" her thoughts and feelings, which later becomes her poetry. "I'm not sure when I began loving to read and write poetry, but I can remember writing seriously when I was 10 years old," said Gerlach, who says she is the mother of two grown children but will not disclose her age. "I have always been active - caring for my children, working with my husband, Joe, in our Highland Park jewelry store, restoring our home and gardening.