Archive for January 14th, 2011

“So this is the sound of you”: W.S. Merwin and the Tucson memorial

Friday, January 14th, 2011
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His poem read in Tucson

Speaking of the U.S. poet laureate, I just got an email from Copper Canyon Press, publisher of the current poet laureate, W.S. Merwin.

I was unaware that this week’s memorial service in Tucson concluded with his poem, “To the New Year.” The email read: “This message speaks to the inherent power of poetry, how we reach for necessary words at times when any words are difficult to find.”

To the New Year

With what stillness at last
you appear in the valley
your first sunlight reaching down
to touch the tips of a few
high leaves that do not stir
as though they had not noticed
and did not know you at all
then the voice of a dove calls
from far away in itself
to the hush of the morning

so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible

Robert Pinsky tells VOA about his life as poet laureate

Friday, January 14th, 2011
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Robert Pinsky, whose has a new collection of poems coming out soon, talked to the Voice of America about, among other things, his tenure as poet laureate between 1997 and 2000:

Pinsky (Photo: Juliet van Otteren)

He resists the idea that he was an ambassador for poetry as many characterize the Poet Laureate’s role. “I was not an ambassador for poetry,” as if he were a salesman for a brand of soap.

“I hope I wasn’t even an advocate for poetry,” he says. “I hope I was like that ape that has a good tasting piece of fruit in its hand and say to another ape, ‘Mmm. Tastes good.’” And a lot of the time I was not doing it at all, I was asking other people to do it and listening to what they had to say.”

Robert launched the ongoing Favorite Poem Project.  It invites everyday people to introduce a poem that is meaningful to them, and then recite it on video for others.

Handsome fella, too.