Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bob Herbert says goodbye

to the NY Times with one of his best columns.

Overwhelming imbalances in wealth and income inevitably result in enormous imbalances of political power. So the corporations and the very wealthy continue to do well. The employment crisis never gets addressed. The wars never end. And nation-building never gets a foothold here at home.

New ideas and new leadership have seldom been more urgently needed.

Amen to that.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Last roundup for the Laureate's Radio Hour

The final shows (for now, at least) of the Laureate's Radio Hour are now up on the ibiblio archive.

January 16, 2011 - Eastern NC poet/musician Jim Clark made the trek to the mountains to join Cathy and me in the studio for a celebration of his CD "The Service of Song." This lovely CD provides Clark's musical settings of poems by Appalachian poet Byron Herbert Reece, "the bard of the North Georgia mountains," who died in 1958 at age 40. We listened to several cuts from the disc, and some tracks, as well, from one of Jim's other CDs, "The Buried Land." You'll find links to some mp3s from both over at Clark's website.

February 13, 2011 - Our scheduled guest came down with the flu, so this Sunday found Cathy and me alone in the studio for what would prove to be our last show together. Since it was the day before Valentines Day, we talked, not about love poetry, but about the love of poetry, about poetry that we loved, poetry that had made us want to join the ranks of poets ourselves. You'll hear us read from the work of, and discuss, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Randall Jarrell, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Creeley, Sylvia Plath, and Gary Snyder, with musical interludes by The Beatles, John Coltrane, Leonard Cohen, and The Grateful Dead. As you might gather, it's quite the mix!

A special thanks to all our guests over the past year, and apologies to the poets whom we didn't get to shine a light on (to use one of Cathy's favorite phrases) - and special thanks, indeed, to Cathy Smith Bowers for a year of fine radio. I wish Cathy all the best as she continues to serve the people of North Carolina, with extraordinary dedication, as Poet Laureate.

That's all for now. And thanks, as always, for listening.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Laureate's Hour ...

comes to an end. I'll be scrambling between now and Sunday to put together another show.

More down the road.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wishing Coleman Barks the best ...

would be a good thing to do right now, and for the next few months, as he works back from a stroke that deprived him of his speech. He's a lucky man in some ways; as he notes in his statement, he's fine cognitively, and has no major loss of physical function:
I can read and write just fine, and no motor functions are impaired. Arms and legs active and strong. It is really just a slightly droopy right eyelid and my having only half a smile.
So I have been tremendously lucky, actually. In three months, my neurologist doctor (Van Morris!) says (by early June), we will see 80% of what improvement (in my half-smile and my speech) is possible. I plan to work with speech therapists, hypnotists, and whoever else, to get better.
I am mostly sleeping as much as I can (grace) and listening to recordings of my old voice in my kitchen and talking along (practice). I am not answering the phone or the door, or emails (only a few). Please forgive me these reclusive measures. Think of me as an old dormant bear, healing.
The Hopi, according to the remarkable linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf, had a category of taking part in an activity that he termed "covert participation", and it included thinking good thoughts about more active participants, saying silent prayers for them, and like steps. Now might be a good time to participate covertly in Coleman's return to speech.

And I'll certainly be holding that voice in mind, and hoping that the spring which has begun to waken so many things that have been sleeping through these cold months rouses the healing power in that old dormant bear, as well.

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Scenes from the Festival

The Spirit of Black Mountain College Festival, that is, which took place at Lenoir-Rhyne University in September, 2008. The Arts Council of North Carolina recorded many of the performances and readings, and apparently the recordings are now up on YouTube. A new friend who was exploring the web in search of some of my work came across them, and kindly let me know.

Not sure why I chose to read all new, unpublished work this day in Hickory, but there's no denying I did. The poems have changed a bit in the years since.

There are also readings by Michael Rumaker, Lee Ann Brown, Lisa Jarnot, Thomas Meyer, and Thomas Raine Crowe from the festival. Cool, extremely cool.

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