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.
May 22, 2005 |
About 200 teenagers submitted more than 600 poems to Bucks County Community College's annual poetry contest this spring. When the reading was done, 16-year-old Michael Deagler earned the title of 2005 high school poet of the year. "The intellect of his writing is what stood out for me. That and the emotional power in his writing," said Bill Wunder, one of the judges. "Many high school poets write about boyfriend/girlfriend or 'woe is me.' He had an outward-looking viewpoint, talking about politics and religion.
November 22, 2004
THE REAL reason people are making a fuss over ABC's pregame skit is plain and obvious - a white woman made a sexual advance to a black man and he gladly accepted it. Had Nicollette Sheridan done this with Brett Farve or Peyton Manning, this wouldn't even be an issue. Spare me the comparisons between this incident and last year's Super Bowl halftime show. The only similarity betwen the two is that in both incidents the African-American celebrities involved are condemned outright while their white counterpart are absolved of any wrongdoing.
November 14, 2004 |
When Bill Wunder returned from Vietnam, he sat down at his typewriter and wrote verse after verse after verse. "It was therapeutic," he said. "I don't want to sound like I had issues. It was something I wanted to do. "But I put it away. Life intervened. " A career in automotive sales, marriage, three children, divorce. Nearly 30 years passed before Wunder came across the first poem he had written about Vietnam. "It was a terrible epic," the Lower Southampton resident said.
October 13, 2004 |
Ted Kooser gets up every day before dawn. But, unlike some of his neighbors in rural America, he's not rising to milk cows or scatter feed to chickens. He gets up to write poetry, and he's been doing it since he was an insurance executive and had only a few hours before putting on a suit and going to work. On March 11, 1999, less than a year after surviving a bout with cancer, he wrote: The sky a pale yellow this morning, like the skin of an onion, and here at the center, under layer upon layer of brooding and ferment, a poet, and cupped in his hands, the green shoot of one word.
August 29, 2004 |
If this borough of about 15,000 had a poet laureate, it's likely that Anthony Gulotta would be it. "Not that I have much competition," laughs Gulotta, a small man with a shock of white hair and a penchant for self-deprecating humor. The borough has been his home for 40 years, so if anyone could lay claim to being a town wordsmith, it might as well be Gulotta. "Nice people, down to earth, they make you feel welcome," he says of residents. Mary Seacrist, whose family has owned the luncheonette and news agency on Bridge Street for as long as anyone can remember, says Gulotta comes in a couple times a week for coffee and conversation.
August 17, 2004 |
These days, when Bob Dylan takes the stage on his Never Ending Tour - if it's Tuesday, he must be in Charleston, S.C. - he's introduced as "the poet laureate of rock-and-roll. " The songwriting bard has answered to that title since the early 1960s, when the jingle jangle of his "skipping reels of rhyme" exploded notions of pop music's creative limitations, and in the words of Bruce Springsteen, "freed your mind the way Elvis freed your body. " But do great pop songs qualify as great poems?
July 11, 2004 |
Molly Connors stood up through the sunroof of a 1988 Suzuki Samurai that was decorated with red, white and blue paper plates and balloons for the Fourth of July parade in Lansdowne. She sipped coffee, smiled and waved to hundreds of onlookers as the jeep inched along, right between the men on antique bicycles with huge wheels and the guys in kilts playing bagpipes. The vehicle bearing her official title - Lansdowne poet laureate - spurred conversation in this borough of 11,000, located near the West Philadelphia border in Delaware County.
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.