December 22, 2008 |
"Elizabeth Alexander may turn out to be the perfect inaugural poet," says Al Young, California's poet laureate from 2005 to 2008. "To me, she arrives at the perfect hour," says Aaron Fagan, poet and editor at Scientific American. "Also a surprising choice, not at all polite or safe. " "Her selection really affirms our generation of American poets in ways that will resonate for a long time to come," says Herman Beavers, an associate professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, fellow poet, and longtime friend.
November 26, 2007
Former New Jersey poet laureate Amiri Baraka was back in the news recently. He didn't get what he wanted, but his case is a reminder that the state remains without a poet-laureate post that can promote poetry and the arts. Time to fix that. Baraka's over-the-top poem after 9/11 - "Somebody Blew Up America" - got him booted from the job by then-Gov. James McGreevey in late 2002. His appeal was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court this month. But Jersey officials went over the top, too - abolishing the laureate position in 2003, along with its $10,000 stipend.
April 29, 2007 |
The night they named David Simpson poet laureate of Montgomery County, his mother showed up. So did his twin brother, Dan. When it was all over, Miriam Dell bought each a book from a vendor at Arcadia University, where Simpson was feted April 13. Then she turned to Joanne Leva, founder and director of the laureate program, and poet Carolyn Forche, celebrity judge for this year's competition. "I don't know why they want books," Dell said. "They both have so many of them, and they can't read them.
November 10, 2006 |
Most people, even opera buffs, would be hard-pressed to come up with a melody - any melody - from Gaetano Donizetti's Torquato Tasso. After all, Torquato Tasso was one of Donizetti's earlier operas, written in 1833 and not performed again until 1974 in London and then not again until the late '80s in Italy. It has never been performed in the United States - until now, according to the head of a South Jersey opera company. On Saturday and Nov. 18, the opera about the ill-starred, and possibly mad, 16th-century Italian poet will get its American premiere courtesy of the Amici Opera Company at the Bible Presbyterian Church in Collingswood.
September 27, 2006 |
OVER THE PAST few weeks, I've been reading the obituary column with more interest than ever. There was time I read only the front-page news, the columns, the letters to the editor, Stu Bykofsky - and never gave the obits even a glance. I guess I just didn't want to know more than I had to about death. But ever since my wife Esther died recently at 88, and left me by myself in our little Cape Cod, I've been thinking of how I would like my own obit to read when I die. The thing that interests me the most are the ages of those who died.
August 27, 2006 |
Bob Dylan is a doomsayer, spreading the word that trouble is on the way. He's a crusty romantic "studying the art of love," still hopeful, at 65, that "it'll fit me like a glove. " And he's a devilishly cheery troubadour with a Snidely Whiplash mustache who playfully couples "I got the pork chop, she got the pie" with "She ain't no angel, and neither am I. " Modern Times (Columbia . ?), Dylan's 44th album and his first in five years, contains multitudes. No surprise there.
May 21, 2006 |
What does it mean to be a poet laureate? Elkins Park resident Deborah Fries was thinking about that recently after being named the 2006 poet laureate of Montgomery County. Already, Fries has fulfilled some of her duties. She accepted her award at Arcadia University, thanked the panel of judges headed by Pulitzer Prize-winner Galway Kinnell, and did an inaugural reading. Now it is on to other things, she said: workshops, a few readings, and "representing the poetry community in a place where I live and work and where so many good writers find space and inspiration.
December 11, 2005 |
The well runs deep for Patricia Goodrich, a retired teacher, amputee, traveler and divorcee, who taps into her life experiences for art's sake. Her creative projects, which have received international attention, spill into both the visual arts and the literary world. Most recently, Goodrich was recognized for her writings and earned the distinction of 2005 Bucks County poet laureate. "My work is pretty direct," Goodrich, 62, of Springfield Township, said. "At first, I felt I had to announce a poem and summarize it at the end. Now I know I have to trust the reader to be intelligent enough to get it. " Christopher Bursk, a literature professor who has known Goodrich since they met at a poetry workshop more than 20 years ago, called her poetry courageous.
August 5, 2005 |
The first time I met two-time U.S. poet laureate Stanley Kunitz he was reading before more than 2,000 people at New Jersey's biennial Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival at Waterloo Village in Stanhope. He had ascended the main stage, under a large circuslike tent, and was greeted by thunderous applause that hung in the air like a trapeze performer under a similar enclosure. He sipped from a water glass, cleared his throat, and surveyed the assembled masses. From the moment he spoke, I was transfixed.
June 9, 2005 |
Watching TV, playing computer games, surfing the Net - popular American pastimes. Along with poetry. Poetry? Yes, poetry, that most rarefied of literary endeavors, is hot - hotter than ever, in fact - especially among young people. Poetry readings, poetry slams, and spoken-word performances attract sellout crowds in clubs and auditoriums locally and across the country. Poetry anthologies and audio collections are selling briskly. And the weekly HBO program Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry is entering its fifth season.