Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Other National Poetry Month Happenings!

At Poets Who Blog, Sara says you can submit a poem to her National Poetry Month Project where she will be featuring no less than 1 poetry blogger's poem for each day of the month. Way to go! and thank you, Sara, for your event to promote National Poetry Month! where she will be featuring no less than 1 poetry blogger's poem for each day of the month. Way to go! and thank you, Eureka Books , of Eureka, CA, will celebrate National Poetry Month by offering illustrated poetry broadsides of internationally known writers like Pulitzer Prize winners Seamus Heaney and Philip Levine, as well as local poets. Broadsides have become very popular because many of them are signed by the poets and are very affordable [starting at 10 dollars] according to Jack Irvine, owner of Eureka Books.

Thought you'd never see something like this, huh, folks - but I'm really happy to tell you that Virginia Military Institute will be holding its first Poetry Symposium April 4-5. Yes. You read it correctly. Friday evening's "The Power of Poetry" will be kicked off with a reading by 2006 Pulitzer prize winning poet Claudia Emerson and poet and Vietnam veteran Bruce Weigl. The Symposium will take place in the Nicholas Engineering Building auditorium at 7:45 pm and is free and open to the public. Even though some will think VMI and poetry is incongruous, there have been "memorable readings at the Post by Allen Ginsberg, Elizabeth Seydel Morgan and Iraq War veteran Brian Turner." Way to go! VMI, get your poetry ON!

Interested in film? For National Poetry Month, the Poetry Foundation, in collaboration with WGBH/Boston and docUWM at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, will be presenting Poetry Everywhere, a series of 32 short poetry films. The films can also be seen at the new PBS website, and - get this! - on Transit TV, a network that runs their programs on LCD screens in public transportation systems in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Orlando, and San Diego. This is phenomenal! I didn't know such a thing existed. [my bad]

Baker Books, of Dartmouth, MA, in honor of National Poetry Month, is sponsoring a children's poetry contest, open to children from kindergarten through 8th grade. Submission deadline is April 19th. Submission form can be obtained at the bookstore or online. According to the The Chronicle, "Over the past 11 years, Baker Books had contacted dozens of schools in the New Bedford and Fall River area to encourage teachers to utilize the contest as a way of inspiring local young people to explore the creative and expressive possibilities of poetry." Good on you, Baker Books!

Barnes & Noble of 392 State Rd., Darmouth, will also be sponsoring a poetry contest for student poets in grades 9-12 and the winner will receive a 25 dollar Barnes & Noble Gift Card.

To be continued..

2008 Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere is announcing its 2008 Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere Election - with nominations to begin on April 1, 2008. The has hosted the Election for the last 4 years and stresses the Poet Laureate of the "Blogosphere is the only laureateship chosen by readers." Here are the Rules for Nomination of Poets as per
  1. Those nominated must have a history of posting poetry to their blogs for a period of no less than 1 year prior to March 1, 2008.
  2. Anyone can nominate their favorite poetry blogger.
  3. Nominations will begin on april 1st and will end on April 20th.
  4. Voting will begin on April 21st and will end at 12:00 midnight on April 29th.
  5. The winner will be announced on April 30th.
  6. As in years past, Billy Jones, a.k.a Billy The Blogging Poet, will not be nominated because he is hosting the event.
  7. English language only.
  8. Previous winners can not be nominated.
  9. All decisions by the Judge, that would be Billy The Blogging Poet, will be final.
  10. All nominations must be made in the form provided on April 1st. E-mail, write-ins, protests and other means to nominate will not be accepted.
Prior Poet Laureates of the Blogosphere are Amy King, Ron Silliman, and Jilly Dybka.

All you wonderfully talented poets, and you know who you are [ ALL OF YOU!], please tell your readership, friends and ezine memberships about this wonderful opportunity to become the Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere! Spread the word like wildfire! [You might even burn up your competition in the process! heh heh. er, ahem, that didn't make sense, did it? But I hope it made you laugh..]

Monday, March 3, 2008

Joe Felso on teaching poetry to high school students, responsibly

Come see with me how a teacher manages teaching his high school students the fine art of writing poetry - along with his students feelings about tackling this much-ballyhooed literature in metrical form. Poetry, defined as "the measured language of emotion." [Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary] Joe Felso, teacher, poet, and artist, takes the reader through the finer moments of Dead Poets Society, the movie in which Robin Williams gave a memorable performance as Mr. Keating, who enumerates traditional rudiments of poetry, then calls the method "excrement" and encourages his students to rip the pages out of the lesson book and throw them to the wind. Felso states that placing poetry on a pedestal of reverence gives students the means with which to cause its fall from lofty heights. He goes on to remind us of Keating's bleating against over-emphasis on analyzing poetry to death, but rejecting analysis of poetry in toto makes it impossible to teach it according to Felso. All of this reminds me of the analysis-paralysis syndrome. I tend to think one can get light-headed and speak in tongues while analyzing everything down to a gnat's eyeball. Moderation in everything is the key.

Felso brings up true misgivings about over-analysis and hints that maybe we shouldn't analyze poetry at all, and just leave the meaning of the poem explicitly to the reader. I can get into that. And, more of his marvelous ideation. But, I don't want to give all the good stuff away in Felso's well-thought out ruminations and beg you to go read his entire post here. But wait, let me leave you with a little tease a la list of Joe's evocative ideas about poetry before you whisk over to his great read:

  • So, teaching poetry often becomes an exercise in un-brainwashing.
  • No, poetry isn't special, except that it is a form of writing with distinctive and interesting conventions and challenges.
  • No, we aren't looking for specific answers in poems as if each were a life or death riddle.
  • No, you aren't stupid if the poem doesn't resonate with you. Maybe the next one will.
  • No, it is possible to read a poem closely and attentively and still appreciate it (and maybe even enjoy it).
  • No, poetry isn't always boring, arcane, or snooty.
  • No, I won't give up or leave you alone if you play nice during this "poetry unit."
  • Yes, I do love to analyze poetry...because it's worth it.
  • Yes, I love poetry.
And, yes, it is so worth it to read anything Joe Felso deems worthy of his time to write. He's an excellent innovative writer, poet, and his amazing art work will leave you breathless. Truth.