What to write in my inaugural column as editor of the Marin Poetry Center Newsletter? I can think of nothing more appropriate to share than a sample of the poetry I am reading that is informing my own work, as well as a bit of my response to it. I believe that writing and reading are as intimately intertwined as breathing out and breathing in. Try exhaling for a while without taking in any new air, and you’ll experience what trying to produce good poems is like without reading any new poets. (And if you’re a writer, and all you do is inhale every book you can, without returning something back into the world, you’ll eventually burst.) So here is Ocean Vuong’s "Prayer for the Newly Damned," previously published in APR and reprinted below with permission from the poet.
Prayer for the Newly Damned Dearest Father, forgive me, for I have seen. Behind the wooden fence, a field lit with summer, a man pressing a shank to another man’s throat. Steel turning to light on sweat-slick neck. Forgive me for not calling Your name. For thinking this must be how every prayer begins—the word Please cleaving the wind into fragments, into what a boy hears in his need to know how pain blesses the body back to its sinner. The hour suddenly stilled. The man genuflected, his lips pressed to black boot as the words spilled from his mouth like rosaries shattering from too much Father. Am I wrong to love those eyes, to see something so clear and blue—beg to remain clear and blue? Did my cheek twitch when that darkness bloomed from his crotch and trickled into ochre dirt? Father, how quickly the blade becomes You. But let me begin again: There’s a boy kneeling in a house with every door kicked open to summer. There’s a question corroding his tongue. There’s a knife touching Your name lodged inside the throat. Dearest Father, what becomes of the boy no longer a boy? Please— what becomes of the shepherd when the sheep are cannibals?
"Dearest Father, forgive me for I have seen," opens Ocean Vuong’s "Prayer for the Newly Damned." Perhaps damned is too strong a word to describe our own condition as readers and writers of poetry, but certainly damaged must apply to us all—as in Auden’s famous line directed toward Yeats, concerning what must have "hurt [him] into poetry."
And certainly as poets, like the speaker in Vuong’s poem, behind our own "wooden fences, a field lit/with summer, a man pressing a shank/to another man’s throat. Steel turning to light/ on sweat-slick neck . . . ," we have seen more than we can be silent about. And so we cry out to our inherited Fathers and Mothers—our God or gods, our biological, spiritual, poetic forefathers and foremothers—in holy poetry, lest the questions welling up inside us remain "lodged inside the throat . . . corroding [our] tongue[s]." (As I write this column, I am numb from even more death and injury in the Middle East, Ferguson, Missouri, San Francisco, Tiburon.)
The question Vuong asks, "what becomes of the boy no longer a boy?" becomes for us, "what becomes of the [poet] after [she] has truly seen?" After witnessing first hand the negative power of violence, war, disease, prejudice . . . ? To where does the innocence required to see the world anew flee? How can the poet’s eyes "remain clear and blue?" How can she "begin again?"
For me, the questions themselves are the answers. The poem itself is a prayer that can only be answered with another prayer, another poem—the connection so lyrically described by Vuong as the "pain [that] blesses the body back/to its sinner" after the prayer has "cleav[ed]/ the wind into fragments, into what/a [poet] hears in his need to know." (Forgive me, Ocean, for seeing a poet instead of a boy.) This poem, like all others, is merely one verse of the poem that comprises the entire canon.
What does all of this verbiage have to do with us as poets and readers of poetry? For one thing, to hear the message that, as artists, we need one another. For another, that we cannot be part-time poets—not that we should all quit our day jobs and write full-time, but in the sense that we should strive to see every personal, familial, or national experience, every relationship, every event through the poet's eyes. Writing about it all. Not listening to the voices of those who hold the knives of doubt, intimidation, prejudice, hatred, or fear to our throats, not allowing "the word" to remain inside us, corroding our tongues, but rather listening for the encouraging voices around us that are urging us onward in our writing pilgrimage. And if we can't hear them, seeking them out, "calling [Their] name[s]."
For me, that's what Marin Poetry Center and this newsletter is about: sharing our writing lives and making connection with other poets—not just the virtuosic, such as Ocean Vuong, Ilya Kaminsky, Ellen Bass, and all the rest, whose work we access through top journals and MPC featured readings, but with all the members of our poetry community—published, unpublished, currently writing, or not—in order to return the "clarity" and "blueness" to our own eyes and to the eyes of our fellow poets.
In this issue, our poets and writers have given us opportunities to do just that. In our featured essay, "Missive from the Frost Place," Rebecca Foust shares her story of spending two months as the 2014 Dartmouth Poet in Residence at the Frost Place, and how the relationships she forged there changed her writing life. Barbara Brooks gives terrific summaries of three recent MPC readings in "Third Thursday Events," and provides encouragement to broaden our poetic horizons by attending future readings. In the "Poet Laureate's Corner," Joe Zaccardi presents his essay, "The Weight of Words," which is full of practical examples of word origins which can be used to build our own nests of words to enrich our poems, as well as motivate us to do our own dictionary work. Finally, in her MPC Board Update, Paula Weinberger, MPC Chair, introduces new and returning board members and volunteers, and makes known the needs for immediate volunteers so that MPC can perform all of its functions at optimal level.
So, here is your Fall Marin Poetry Center Newsletter. It's about seeing. It's about reading. It's about writing. It's about "kneeling in a house with every door kicked open/ to summer"—no matter the season. It's about "begin[ing] again."
Note: Thank you to Barbara Brooks for assistance in proofreading, and to Roy Mash for formatting this issue.
In March of this year I received word that I would be the 2014 Dartmouth Poet in Residence at the Frost Place, a unique fellowship that awards recipients a two-month residency in Robert Frost's farmhouse in Franconia, New Hampshire, the opportunity to give a series of local readings, and $2000 in stipends. I loved the idea of living and writing in the former home of one of my favorite poets, and also of being able to extend the reach of my own work to a new geographic region. And I thought that getting to read at Dartmouth (where I'd spent my junior year in college) would be the icing on the cake, but that was before I first saw Franconia Notch, a place of unspoiled wilderness in what must be one of the most beautiful mountain landscapes in the country.
"The Frost Place" is what local residents called the farmhouse Robert Frost lived in with his family from 1915-20 and for 19 summers afterward. Decades after Frost sold the property, the nickname stuck and became the formal title of what is now a museum owned by the town of Franconia and the foundation that runs its programs.
On July 1, I made the two-hour drive from the Burlington Airport along rural country roads, passing green fields deep with crops, old New England barns, a working Smithy, and road signs telling me to watch out for Moose and, when I crossed into New Hampshire, to "Live Free or Die." A few miles short of my destination, I entered the White Mountains, home of the Presidential, Pilot, and several other ranges described by Frost in his poem "Out, Out" like this:
And from there those lifted eyes could count Five mountain ranges one behind the other Under the sunset far into Vermont.Like the Alleghenies I grew up with in western Pennsylvania, the White Mountains are thickly forested, but they are younger and less eroded, hence taller and more sharply angled and textured. As I would learn later, watching these mountains from my front porch the way I might otherwise have been watching TV, the White Mountains react to minute variations in light with the sensitivity of an eye's iris, sometimes appearing blue, green, or pink, and all the hues between. And sometimes all at once, the nearer ranges illuminated against more distant ones steeped in blue or black shadow.
As the road gained altitude, the humidity was wrung from the air, sharpening the outlines of mountains and trees against a blue sky filled with a constantly shifting panorama of enormous white clouds. From Highway 93S and then Rte. 116, I took Ridge Road, a gravel single lane crossing the Ham Branch of the Gale River and winding through woods until I came to an open area of green lawn announced by an old, rusted mailbox, hand-lettered in black paint with the name "R. Frost." Beyond a bank of orange day lilies stood the white clapboard farmhouse with a covered front porch running its entire width. You can see a picture of the mailbox and house at http://frostplace.org
This is where I would spend the next two months, alone: rising early or late as I pleased, sometimes staying up all night—writing, writing, writing. The house, with three rooms upstairs and five downstairs, is generous with places to work. My favorite is the screened-in back porch, furnished with a banquet-size folding table and two long clotheslines, on which I pinned the pages of my next manuscript. This porch faces dead west and collects light and warmth all day until the sun sets at about 8 pm. The east-facing front porch runs the entire width of the house and commands a spectacular view of the mountains, and this is where I liked to work in the mornings. If it rained, or when I needed privacy from the steady stream of museum visitors from 1-5 pm every day but Tuesday, I wrote at a small wooden table in the kitchen, equipped with modern conveniences, but still with its old-fashioned porcelain farm sink and early twentieth century cast iron wood-burning stove.
The house was built in 1857 and has had only three owners since the town of Franconia bought it in the 1970's: the farmer Frost cajoled into selling it to him in 1914, Frost, and the family who sold it to the town. An ancestor of that last family now sits on the board of the Frost Place, and I enjoyed his stories about staying in the house when he was a boy.
The three rooms devoted to the museum consist of a small anteroom thought to have been Frost's office, plus a large, sunny room (filled with blown-up photographs of Frost at work, glass museum cases with samples of Frost's books, papers, and letters and Frost's Mission-style chair and portable lap desk), and finally, Frost's bedroom upstairs. The bedroom window frames a stunning view of Lafayette mountain, and it is here that Frost placed his desk, keeping the window open in all seasons (even winter), and writing poems including the famous "Out, Out," and others, including "Brown's Descent," "The Gun-Gatherer," and "the Vanishing Red," all written during that first summer of 1915. "Out, Out," is based on a lumber milling accident that happened to a boy in nearby Bethlehem, and a copy of the news story from the Littleton Courier that may have inspired Frost's poem now hangs in the barn in back of the house where visitors begin their tour watching a video that recounts the history of the Frost Place. The bedroom also holds Frost's actual bed (which I never mustered the nerve to take so much as a nap in) and two more glass cases, one displaying an array of Christmas cards designed by Frost (he did the artwork as well as the poems), and printed by a local letterpress.
My living space comprised the kitchen, a very large living room with a central freestanding fireplace built in local stone (yes, some are round and some "nearly loaves"), a "pass-through" bathroom with a cast-iron footed bathtub, a first-floor bedroom, and the wonderful, airy front and back porches described above. I also had the use, for guests, of two smaller upstairs bedrooms.
The house is in a remote area, with no street lights for miles and no visible neighboring houses. At night, the stars and the moon were my only lamps—these and the old birch tree trunks that reflected back their cool, silvery light. In back of the house stands the Henry Holt barn (named after Frost's publisher), and a meadow into which has been carved the "poetry trail," a quarter-mile loop posted with signboards printed with some of Frost's best-loved poems, like "Birches" and "The Oven Bird." Beyond that lies a thick forest of silver and white birch, maple, butternut, poplar, tamarack, and spruce. I walk a path through these woods to get to my car, wearing a headlamp and clanging a bear bell (a pot lid and spoon), hoping not to encounter the mama bear and triplet cubs who live here. I have seen the mother, as well as one of her tiny, loping cubs, but only from a safe distance and during the day. Mama Bear has been known to show up at the kitchen screen door, though, and in one lean summer she tore off the back of the barn in search of food, so I have learned to take care.
People have asked whether it was lonely staying at the house, whether I didn't fear intruders or ghosts. The answer is an unequivocal no. I relished the solitude, and if I wanted company, I always had the option of chatting with museum docents or visitors during the day. At night the house felt cozy and neutral, like what I call a "happy house"—a place in which one senses its inhabitants have been mostly content. The one ghost I encountered was friendly and inquisitive, and departed when I asked it to—but that is a story for another day.
As the Frost Fellow I had the option of attending the two conferences held during my stay: The 2014 Conference on Poetry (July 13 – 19, 2014), offers "a week at 'intensive poetry camp' with writers ... deeply committed to learning more about the craft of writing poetry ... a daily immersion in listening, reflection, and conversation about the writing and reading of poetry." Although about 60 poets attended, workshops were small, with eight students to each teacher. The structure was like what I experienced at my MFA residencies at Warren Wilson, themselves modeled on the Bread Loaf Writer's conference. Morning lecture was followed by an afternoon workshop, both held at the White Mountain School where participants were housed and meals served. In the evening, conference participants gathered back at the Frost Place, in the Henry Holt Barn, for readings.
What a treat it was to wander out of my kitchen with a cup of tea to sit and listen to Martha Rhodes (Director), Vievee Francis, Rodney Jones, Matthew Olzmann, Ellen Doré Watson, Jamaal May and Jay Baron Nicorvo, and then to see the fruits of the week's labors in the participant reading at the end. And what an honor to be part of those readings, standing before a happy, captive (and book-buying!) audience in the barn with that jaw-dropping view of the White Mountains seen through the open barn doors. Afterwards, we reconvened at the White Mountain School for libations, snacks, and two lively dance parties. If you want a first-hand account, talk to MPC member MJ Pramik, who attended these events this summer, where she bloomed into poetry in a way that made me very happy.
Details: The Frost Place Conference on Poetry, http://frostplace.org/conference-on-poetry Dates: Arrival July 13-July 19, 2014. Application Deadline: June 10, 2014. Cost: $1,475 for tuition and a week's meals and lodging.
The Frost Place Poetry Seminar is smaller, with about 35 enrolled students and also offering manuscript consultations and a performance workshop. Faculty members for this year's seminar were Patrick Donnelly (Director), Jennifer Grotz, and Afaa Michael Weaver. The structure was the same as at the conference: morning lecture and afternoon workshop at the White Mountain School, followed by evening readings at the Frost Place. I especially enjoyed Wednesday night's dinner on the front porch, and being tour guide for the house I had grown to love. MPC member Zara Raab attended this one, and her quiet, radiant presence made the conference even better for me; ask her about her about her experience, and consider coming yourself next year!
Details: The Frost Place Poetry Seminar, http://frostplace.org/poetry-seminar Dates: August 3-9, 2014. Application Deadline: July 1, 2014. Cost: $1,475 for tuition and a week's meals and lodging.
The Conference on Poetry and Teaching took place in June before my arrival, but I heard similar rave reviews about it and its faculty, Dawn Potter (Director), Teresa Carson, Meg Kearney, Iain Haley, and fellow Alyssa Kelly. You can find more information here, http://frostplace.org/cpt.
I've attended many poetry conferences over the last seven years. What sets these apart, aside from the across-the-board high quality of the teaching and mentoring, is the effort put in to build true community. Everyone knew each other's name by the second day, and I was struck by the way, over and over, people hovering at the periphery were drawn back into the circle. I felt supported and nurtured, and I could see myself and others forming relationships that would outlast the conference. Frost Place Director Maudelle Driskell tells me that inclusiveness, support, nurture and a sense of true community are primary goals, an ethic instilled by the longtime former director of TFP, Donald Sheehan. And it says something that the high point of each conference was the participant reading. Such readings can become ungoverned open mikes, with each reader focused only on their own work, but these were joyous events, well organized with respect paid to time limits and close attention given to each reader. What I liked best was the way each person left the stage looking—triumphant.
Another way to spend time at the Frost Place is to win the Frost Chapbook Prize, instituted in 2013, which awards the winner $250, publication with Bull City Press, and a week-long residency at the Frost Place. This year's winner, Bay Area poet Lisa Gluskin Stonestreet, will read from her book Greenhouse at Marin Poetry Center in 2015.
I hope to write more later about the natural beauty of the White Mountain region, the swims in the deep, green pool filled by the lower falls of the Ammonoosuc River, the backpacking trip crossing three miles of deep bog, and fording streams to stand at last on Roger's Ledge, eye-to-eye with an eagle riding the thermals, and sleeping at night in a hammock strung up in the trees. I want to write more about Maudelle, my guide on that hike, who cooked our dinner on a stove modeled on the principles of a jet engine and fashioned from the two halves of a beer can. About the fog pouring into Franconia notch like, as Frost's children said, a great white dragon. And about the abundant, exuberant wildlife, some of which visited me in my kitchen late at night (thankfully, no moose or bear): a frog, a mouse, a little brown bat and, for three magical weeks, Luna moths the size of my hand. But for now I will just say that more than the time and inspiring place to write, more than the actual work I was able to do, the gift of this residency was the way it helped me to remember just why I write, why it matters, why I must continue. For me, the green, moss-covered well that provided my drinking, cooking, and bathing water has become a metaphor of my two months at the Frost Place, where I drank deeply of the waters of the poetic tradition, and I felt renewed.
Greetings Marin Poetry Center members and poets.
The Weight of Words
Chapter Two: Word Invaders
First a little background:
Anglo-Saxon is the emotional heart of English; it is the basis of everyday communication. Even though fifty-one percent of Chaucer's eight-thousand-word vocabulary committed to print is Romance in origin, less than twenty percent of that total vocabulary is not basic English. It's difficult to say what the percentage of Anglo-Saxon is in Modern English, as there are many words in that have there counterpart in other languages, e.g. beef is French, and oxen is German. Anglo Saxons lived in tribes on the border between what we, today, call Denmark and Germany. A broad breakdown of derivation of Modern English from other languages today would be sixty percent French or Latin via French, fifteen to twenty percent from Greek. Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse comprise most of the remainder, the small percentage left (about one to two percent), being loan words from Spanish, Gaelic, Russian, and Arabic. Of course, one to two percent of over one million words is quite a mouthful.
Had it not been for the French language influence, due to the Norman invasion in 1066 C.E., English today would be very much like Danish. And, in fact, there are many Norse words to be found—e.g. manger = many, flu = fly, end = end, hang = hang, tid = time, and olde = old. And this is only naming a few.
The use by English of other languages runs deeper than a simple borrowing of words. For example, Scandinavian helped bring order out of the chaos in the English pronoun system with the gifts of they, their, and them. It also supplied are as the present plural verb form of to be.
What I'd like to concentrate on in this chapter is the gastronomical contributions of words from some surprising sources. Let's begin with a discovery I made back in the mid-1990s when I was out with some friends in San Francisco's Chinatown. We chose a restaurant by virtue of the long waiting line; always a surefire sign of very good and reasonably priced Chinese food. Standing there I could see into the kitchen where the cooks were busily tossing chow mein, rice, various kinds vegetables, sea foods and meats in their woks, when I noticed a bottle of ketchup lined up next to the typical sauces used in Asian food. After we were seated I mentioned this to our waiter, with some surprise in my voice, because Ketchup is so American, and is generally disdained in many cuisines. I was informed with a certain irony in his voice, that Ketchup is Chinese, that that word comes from koechiap, originally a brine of various fish parts often mixed with tomato puree, along with other spices. Of course when I got home I looked this up in my encyclopedia—this is in the days before I had a computer—and found not only that this is the case, but that Catsup, which I always thought was just a regional difference in the spelling for Ketchup, was actually an attempt at Anglicizing this word as far back as the 1680s. This in turn led me to look up the origins of the other ingredients listed on the ketchup bottle. Starting at the top of the list:
Tomato: Originally tomato came from Nahuatl (Aztecan) tomatl, cultivated by the Aztecs and Incas as early as 700 C.E., then in turn came to Portuguese, then to Spanish as tomate in the 16th century. The tomato was thought to be poisonous by Europeans, and actually the leaves are deadly and some people have the same reaction to the fruit.
Sugar: Now this is sweet! The etymology of this word surprised me. Sugar started it's journey to Modern English from Sanskrit sharkara "ground or candied sugar," to Persian shakar, to Medieval Latin succarum, to Old French sucre in the 13th century, then finally to Middle English shortly thereafter.
Vinegar: Okay, no surprised here, vinegar is from Latin vinum 'wine' + acer 'sour,' to Old French vyn egre, to Middle English.
Salt: The most popular seasoning in the world, salt came to us from an Indo-European root shared by Latin sal and Greek hals—'salt.' (A little side trip: the word salary is derived from the word salt, because Roman soldiers were paid in salt, a commodity that was in great demand and easily bartered back in the days of the first republic.)
Now what would a hamburger be like without Ketchup? Of course hamburger came to the American shores in 1912 and is derived from the German city of Hamburg. Which brings us to another import, Frankfurter, from German Frankfurter Wurst "Frankfurt sausage," nowadays in America more commonly called the "Hot Dog." Finally an American / English word introduced into British / English. The term dog has been used as a synonym for sausage since 1884 and accusations that sausage makers used dog meat, date to at least 1845. In the early 20th century, consumption of dog meat in Germany was common. The suspicion that sausages contained dog meat in America was occasionally justified. The earliest known usage of hot dog in clear reference to sausage, found by Fred R. Shapiro, appeared in the December 31, 1892 issue of the Paterson (New Jersey) Daily Press. The story concerned a local traveling vendor, Thomas Francis Xavier Morris. According to Shapiro, a small boy said to the frankfurter vendor, "Hey, Mister, give me a hot dog quick," as the startled Press reporter stood close by. In the next day's newspaper readers were treated to this scrumptious morsel: "The 'hot dog' was quickly inserted in a gash in a roll, a dash of mustard also splashed on to the 'dog' with a piece of flat whittled stick, and the order was fulfilled." According to another story, the use of the complete phrase hot dog in reference to sausage was coined by the newspaper cartoonist Thomas Aloysius "TAD" Dorgan around 1900 in a cartoon recording the sale of hot dogs during a New York Giants' baseball game at the Polo Grounds. However, TAD's earliest usage of hot dog was not in reference to a baseball game at the Polo Grounds, but to a bicycle race at Madison Square Garden, in The New York Evening Journal December 12, 1906, by which time the term hot dog in reference to sausage was already in use. In addition, no copy of the apocryphal cartoon has ever been found.
Another popular American condiment is "mustard," the perfect marriage to the hot dog. This word derives from the Anglo-Norman mustarde and Old French mostarde. The first element is ultimately from Latin mustum, ("must," that is "young wine") – the condiment was originally prepared by making the ground seeds into a paste with must. The second element comes also from Latin ardens, (hot, flaming). It first appeared in English in the late 13th century.
And we have the French to thank for mayonnaise, a sauce made from egg yolks, oil, and vinegar (1815), from sauce mayonnaise (1806), said by French sources to be corrupted from mahonnaise, and to have been named in recognition of Mahon, seaport capital island of Minorca, captured by France in 1756 after the defeat of the British defending fleet in the Seven Years' War—the sauce having been introduced either in commemoration of the victory, which was led by Armand de Vignerot du Plessis, duc de Richelieu (1696–1788), or because it was brought to France from there by him. Whew! that's a mouth full. Mayonnaise is used in the US on hamburgers, sometimes on French fries, and who knows, perhaps someday on hotdogs. Egad! Another side trip: a mixture of ketchup and mayonnaise are the main ingredients in Thousand Island dressing used on salads, and salad comes from the word salt.
And lastly the derivation of the word barbecue. Most etymologists believe that barbecue derives from the word barabicu found in the language of the Taíno people of the Caribbean and the Timucua of Florida, and entered European languages in the form barbacoa. The word translates as "sacred fire pit." The word describes a grill for cooking meat, consisting of a wooden platform resting on sticks.
There are literally thousands of words from various etymologies for the foods we English speakers owe to the invaders. Perhaps someday, someone will write a tome on just this subject.
So as yellow jackets buzz your burger and bun, and Fido eyes your hot dog rather warily, you'll have lots to talk about at your next cookout besides current events.
By the by, has anyone tried ketchup on scrambled eggs? Delish.
One of the "perks" of MPC membership is the opportunity to attend Third Thursday events. For a mere $3, members may experience readings, meet poets and purchase autographed copies of books by some of the most luminous poets of our time. Some of the featured poets are available for workshops in conjunction with their appearances. All this happens in the historic ambiance of Falkirk, a spectacular venue for poetry. Here is a recap of several "Third Thursdays" produced by Donna Emerson last spring.
Ellen Bass and Andrea Hollander – March 20, 2014
Andrea Hollander read from her new book, Landscape with Female Figure, New and Selected Poems 1982-2012. She led off with "finches and sparrows, wind wheezing like breath from her [mother's] chest," a subtle shift from nature to the human body. She told about giving assignments to herself, such as exploring a color in its essence. In "Blue", she spoke about "one-sentence poems." Listening to Andrea, a faculty member and featured writer at numerous conferences, is like a brief course in writing poetry. She led a full workshop on "Line Breaks", the following day. Ellen Bass, who was on tour to launch her latest book, Like a Beggar, said that "In a poem, life and death are equal…and we'll take everything on the menu." Reading mostly from her new book, she continued with selections from Relax, beginning with "Bad things are going to happen." She showed how we go on, with humor and with love, ordinary life transcended. She read The Morning After, what will likely be a signature poem for her. Ellen is not just a poet, but also a storyteller with a mastery of language. There was a full house at the reading, with a line out the door for book purchases.
Kim Rosen and Christina Hutchins – April 17, 2014
This evening was conceived as an evening of spiritual poetry. Kim Rosen, author of Saved by a Poem: the Transformative Power of Words, is known for her concerts of spoken word with background music. We were treated to a "mini-concert," as Kim recited "King of the River" by Stanley Kunitz. She regularly performs other poets' work, and continued with selections from D.H. Lawrence, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Marie Howe. She also recited her own poem, "In Impossible Darkness." The audience was enthralled with Kim's performance.
Christina Hutchins, one of our MPC members, is currently Lecturer in Theology and Literary Arts at Pacific School of Religion. She read from The Stranger Dissolves, Radiantly We Inhabit the Air, and Collecting Light. Christina draws from an amazing variety of sources; she is a musician, scientist, and philosopher. She read a poem about her mother, "One A Day Plus Iron," and another, "Washing My Father's Hands." If you missed Christina, look for one of her poems on the MPC website, perhaps "A Poet to her Poem." This was an evening of warmth and spirituality—the poets enjoyed meeting each other and another evening of magic at Falkirk.
Katie Farris and Ilya Kaminsky – May 15, 2014
Katie Farris, co-translator of Selected Poems of Polina Barskova and Selected Poems of Guy Jean, read poetry from her collection, boysgirls, which sold out at the Falkirk reading ... that's how much the audience enjoyed her work. Katie teaches in the MFA program at San Diego State. She has co-edited a forthcoming book of Russian poets with her partner, Ilya Kaminksy, who generously provided copies of poems from his award winning Dancing in Odessa, so the audience could follow along, just in case his accent might be a problem (it wasn't). Deaf since the age of four, llya, arrived from Russia in 1993. He makes the English language sing. A few lines from "An Author's Prayer:" "If I speak for the dead, I must leave / this animal of my body, / I must write the same poem over and over, / for an empty page is the white flag of their surrender." The entire evening provided insights and exposure to different cultures, but with universal humanity. It was a poetry reading not to be missed.
As the Board resumes its regular meetings after our summer recess, we are excited about the many changes that are taking place as Board members and volunteers step down and new faces come forward.
A warm welcome to:
Francesca Bell, who will be replacing Donna Emerson as Events Chair. She will officially begin in February, but has been working with both Donna and Roy Mash, who will be serving as Events Coordinator until February.
Michael Beebe, who has valiantly agreed to be the next Traveling Show Coordinator. Michael has been working with me to learn the ropes, and is ready to charge in 2015.
Terry Lucas, who has replaced Bruce Sams as MPC Newsletter Editor. (This is his inaugural edition.)
Kim Hamilton, who has agreed to serve as PR coordinator for Third Thursday readings, help spruce up our Facebook page, and bring MPC into the 21st century.
High School Program Chair and Anthology Editor desperately needed:
Carolyn Losee, High School Program chair and Anthology editor, Peg Pursell, and co-editor, Kim Marcellino, are stepping down. Anyone interested in either of these rewarding and challenging projects, or knowing of someone who might be interested, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Board wishes to extend a heartfelt thank you to all our outgoing Board members and volunteers for their incredible work and dedication.
We are grateful to our members for their support and new ideas, and look forward to the coming year as new faces assume leadership roles.