National Poetry Month at the Belfast Free Library is all about Digging Poetry!
April is all about “Digging Poetry” at the Belfast Free Library. Each Tuesday evening in April a renowned Maine Poet will lead a discussion on an aspect of Contemporary American Poetry. The series, “Digging Poetry” was designed to develop a deeper appreciation of modern poetry and will feature poets Gary Lawless, Jonathan Skinner, Candice Stover, and Arielle Greenberg. The Maine Humanities Council has awarded the Belfast Free Library a grant in support of this program.
The series kicks off on Tuesday April 6th at 6:30 pm with Gary Lawless leading a discussion on, “Who The Beat Poets Read.” Many people seem to think that the Beat poets made their poems from thin air, spontaneously. This talk will look at Allen Ginsberg's readings of Blake and Whitman, Gary Snyder's readings of Basho, Han Shan and Milton, Gregory Corso's love for Shelley and Keats and Lawrence Ferlinghetti's love of the Surrealists and Situationist French Writers. We will see the Beat poets as wide readers, and lovers of poetry from around the world, who tried through new ways of writing to share their enthusiasm and love with the reading and listening public.
Gary Lawless is co-owner of Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick, and publisher of Blackberry Books. After receiving a BA from Colby College in East Asian Studies he lived as apprentice at the home of Beat poet Gary Snyder. He recently received an honorary PhD as Doctor of Humane Letters from USM.
On Tuesday April 13th at 6:30 pm Jonathan Skinner discusses “Ecopoetics: Language, Form and Site.” A reading of poetry that provokes environmental reflection, through form as much as content: works by John Clare, Lorine Niedecker, Charles Olson, Gary Snyder, Larry Eigner, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Juliana Spahr, and others. How do land art (Robert Smithson), conceptual writing (Kenneth Goldsmith) or mestizo poetics (Cecilia Vicuña) change our relation to place? When the very air we breathe is bought and sold, can poetry reclaim the commons? Can poetry speak to collapsing bee colonies, displaced communities, or the Pacific garbage patch? This program will take a creative look at language in the face of climate change, with an introduction to some techniques in site-specific writing.
Jonathan Skinner’s poetry collections include With Naked Foot and Political Cactus Poems. He has published essays on post-objectivist poetry, on mockingbirds and curing songs, and on the life of vacant lots. Skinner edits the journal “ecopoetics” (www.ecopoetics.org) and teaches in the Environmental Studies Program at Bates College.
Tuesday April 20th at 6:30 pm, “A Woman’s Place” a discussion led by Candice Stover. A woman’s place- where is it? In the home, on the road, on the job, wherever she is on the planet and in whatever poem she writes to show how and where she lives, what she values. In this session of Digging Poetry, we’ll look more closely at women in place on the page as they turn to clothespins and resumes, kitchen tables and wishing wells, villas and horse dung, ruby-throated hummingbirds and green peppers for location and inspiration in poetry. We’ll spend time with Denise Levertov, Jane Kenyon, Joy Harjo, Lisel Mueller, Jane Hirshfield, Jung Tzu, Mary Oliver, Nancy Willard, Pattiann Rogers, and Mekeel McBride as we read, hear, and respond to their work placed in words.
Candice Stover is an award-winning poet and writer who has taught in Shanghai and New Zealand, as well as offering courses in the short story, great letters, and poetry at College of the Atlantic Her collections include Poems From the Pond, Another Stopping Place, and Holding Patterns, which received a Maine Chapbook Award.
And finally on Tuesday April 27th at 6:30 pm, Arielle Greenberg will lead us through,“A Century of Radical Verse: A Glance at American Poetry on the Margins, 1910-2010.” This talk will look briefly at some of the major avant-garde movements in American poetry in the last century, beginning with Modernism and working our way forward through the Beats, the New York School, the Language Poets and ending up in the wonderful melting pot that is avant-garde American poetry as practiced by exciting younger poets today. The focus will be on highlights from and interplay between various movements, with examples of specific poets and poems, rather than on a comprehensive history, and you will go home with a list of exercises drawn from the schools discussed and designed to bring out your own inner radical poet.
Arielle Greenberg is the author of My Kafka Century and Given, as well as several chapbooks, and the co–editor of several poetry anthologies, including, with Rachel Zucker, the forthcoming Starting Today: 100 Poems for Obama's First 100 Days, and Women Poets on Mentorship: Effort and Affections. She is an associate professor at Columbia College Chicago and is currently living in Belfast, working on an oral history of the current back–to–the–land movement in Waldo County.
This series is free and open to the public. Prior to each discussion a packet of poems to be discussed will be available for participants to pick up at the library. Participants are encouraged to sign up in advance for each program so that there are enough copies.
Those interested in participating may sign up in advance by calling or stopping by the main circulation desk of the library, 338-3884 x 10.