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Poetry in Person: Twenty-Five Years of Conversations with American Poets

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Be the Fly on the Wall While Contemporary Poets Discuss Their Poetry with Pearl London

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Tags: Poetry, Poets, Barbara Garro, Pearl London, Wh Auden
1 review about Poetry in Person: Twenty-Five Years of Conversations...

Be a Fly on the Wall While Pearl London Interviews Contemporary Poets in Her Classes

  • Feb 22, 2011
Lovingly edited by Alexander Neubauer from dozens of cassette tapes Pearl London recorded during her classes with contemporary poets over twenty-five years, this book deserves a proper reading by every contemporary poet, if nothing else, for the love of the craft of the art of poetry.

You are there while contemporary poets get examined, dissected, valued and exposed before Pearl London's class. Yes, the students get to participate. Like me, London seeks the heart of the poet, probes to discover how the poet's poem reflects the poet's central concerns. Yes, each poet's discussion revolves around one poem. What is going on? Form or meaning? Rhythm or rhyme? Lyric or narrative? Protect or confession? Out of experience or not?

A couple of poets came from rich and famous families. For example, James Merrill's father co-founded Merrill Lynch.

You will get to hear what Philip Levine has to say about his poem You Can Have It. Good poem, speaks of life in verses. Will you understand its secret? If not, ask me at http://www.BarbaraGarro.com.

W.H. Auden said, Poets who want to change the world tend to be unreadable. Do you agree with that?

Here's what Galway Kinnell said about nature poems, the real nature poem will not exclude Man and deal only with animals and plants and stones. It will be a poem...we re-feel ourselves, our own animal and plant and stone life. Our own deep connections with all other beings.

Muriel Rukeyser said, Poems flower from the bone. Ezra Pound said, The contemporary poet must write nearer to the bone. But Amy Clampitt, who was 63 when her first book The Kingfisher came out, said, I think poetry is in some way akin to music.

Then there's this whole conversation snaking through the book--

Lucille Clifton said, Poetry...is not about sentences, it's about lines. Charles Simic said, For me, the feel for the line is the most mysterious aspect of the entire process. It took me years to realize that the line is what matters, and not the sentence. He also said, A poem is a moment of lucidity. C.K. Williams said, The history of poetry is the tension between the line and the sentence, that's how it differs from conversation and speech; it organizes language artificially. He also said, ...a poem is a singing, it's an enactment of the human voice singing. By the time you get to Whitman, the subject of the work becomes enormous and that Whitman can sing it is what makes him a uniquely great poet. Poet Barbara Garro says, Lines are like stand-up comedy; on their own they better contain both the setup and the punch.

Frank Bidart said, The aim of art is to make life show itself.

For me, an exciting part of the book was first seeing the faces of the poets, as if I were sitting across from them while they spoke with teacher, Pearl London, of the New York School and her class about their poetry.  And, I learned how much alike London and I were in critiquing poetry and in our dramatic dress with large necklaces and a particular style of dressing we liked.

I felt this book so important, I gave it President's Day, yes a whole day, from morning to night, one of the best days I ever spent with a gifted teacher and dozens of really good poets.

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February 24, 2011
Sounds like an interesting read, Barbara!
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