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Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’

As part of our mission to promote authors, the joy of reading, and to help independent booksellers, The Book Jam has paired with the The Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vermont to present an ongoing series entitled “3 Questions”. In it, we pose three questions to authors with upcoming visits to the bookstore. (We have a rotating list of six possible questions to ask just to keep things interesting.) Their responses are posted on The Book Jam during the days leading up to their engagement. Our hope is that this exchange will offer insight into their work, will encourage readers to attend these special author events, and ultimately, will inspire some great reading.

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image from the March 7, 2017 Boston Globe

This week we feature Andrew Forsthoefel  author of Walking to Listen. Based upon his travels as a new graduate of Middlebury College, when he walked America with a backpack, an audio recorder, copies of Whitman and Rilke, and a sign that read “Walking to Listen”, this book offers us all a chance to hear those Mr. Forsthoefel met along his route.

Walking from his home in Pennsylvania, toward the Pacific, he met people of all ages, races, and inclinations. Currently based in Northampton, Massachusetts, Andrew Forsthoefel is a writer, radio producer, and public speaker.  He facilitates workshops on walking and listening as practices of personal transformation, interconnection, and conflict resolution.

Walking to Listen: 4,000 Miles Across America, One Story at a Time Cover ImageAndrew Forsthoefel will visit the Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vermont at 7 pm on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 to discuss Walking to ListenThe event is free and open to the public. However, reservations are recommended as space is limited.  Call 802-649-1114 or email info@norwichbookstore.com to save your seat.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek Cover ImageThe Snow Leopard: (Penguin Orange Collection) Cover ImageA Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius Cover Image

1.What three books have helped shape you into the writer you are today, and why?

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard, welcomed me into the wonders of contemplative writing—she plumbs the depths of her inner world while exploring her natural surroundings, and the balance becomes a revelatory relationship between her heart and the earth, her mind and and the woods. The Snow Leopard, by Peter Matthiessen, is a masterpiece of subtlety and humility, blending spiritual wondering with boots-on-the-ground, embodied experience. And Dave EggersA Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius was an inspiring model of how to write a memoir from a place of acute self-inquiry, sincerity, and radical transparency. I also gotta pay homage to Walt Whitman and Rainer Maria Rilke—poets, healers, warriors of the heart, makers of beauty and peace.

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2.What author (living or dead) would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?

I’d have coffee with the Sufi poet Rumi in the desert somewhere, just to be around someone who was so profoundly in love with the world, so willing to feel the full catastrophe of being human without retreating into cynicism or despair. He made medicine of his experiences by translating them into poetry, and his life became an offering by the way he was willing to commit himself to the labor of love, his faith that the human experience is not an irreparable disaster, that it is undergirded by the redemptive potential for connection with oneself, one another, and the planet. Almost a thousand years later, he continues to serve humanity with his words. What a life! We might not even say a single word in our conversation, might just look at each other and smile. After coffee, we’d have to go for a walk.

The Law of Dreams Cover ImageJust Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption Cover ImageThe New Jim Crow Cover Image

The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety Cover ImageThe End of Your World: Uncensored Straight Talk on the Nature of Enlightenment Cover ImageBraiding Sweetgrass Cover Image

3.What books are currently on your bedside table?

I just finished The Law of Dreams by Peter Behrens, a heartbreaking novel about one young man’s emigration from Ireland in the 1800s. Couldn’t put it down. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, and The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, were recent (and necessary) reads for me, illuminating the racism and oppression laced into and created by our criminal justice system. The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts, and The End of Your World by Adyashanti, arrived in my hands right on time a few months ago, and I’m keeping them on my bedside table to remind me not to fall asleep. Up next: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

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As part of our mission to promote authors, the joy of reading, and to help independent booksellers, The Book Jam has paired with the The Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vermont to present an ongoing series entitled “3 Questions”. In it, we pose three questions to authors with upcoming visits to the bookstore. (We have a rotating list of six possible questions to ask just to keep things interesting.) Their responses are posted on The Book Jam during the days leading up to their engagement. Our hope is that this exchange will offer insight into their work, will encourage readers to attend these special author events, and ultimately, will inspire some great reading.

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This time we feature Brooke Williams. Mr. Williams has spent the last thirty years advocating for wilderness. He is the author of four books and his pieces have appeared in Outside and the Huffington Post.

Open Midnight: Where Ancestors and Wilderness Meet Cover Image

Mr. Williams will visit the Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vermont at 7 pm on Wednesday, March 29th to discuss Open Midnight, his latest book which explores two themes: 1) a year he spent alone verifying backcountry maps of Utah, and 2) his ancestor’s trip from England to the American West in 1863. The event is free and open to the public. However, reservations are recommended as space is limited.  Call 802-649-1114 or email info@norwichbookstore.com to save your seat.

Here Is Where We Meet Cover ImageThe Voyage of the Beagle: Journal of Researches Into the Natural History and Geology of the Countriesvisited During the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle Cover ImageThe Things They Carried Cover Image

1.What three books have helped shape you into the writer you are today, and why?

This is Where We Meet by John Berger (2006). I love how Berger takes seemingly everyday events and imbues them with intense meaning. This has been important to me, knowing that my own experience is valuable and can be mined for universal meanings.

The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin (1839). This was the grand adventure. But it is Darwin’s attention to the details of the natural world that serves as an example. The only real truth we have is the wild truth and this has served me as the foundation on which I stand and from which I step forward.

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (2003). I love how his stories are based on real events but for me, it’s the relationships the characters have with one another that adds a dimension which makes this a book I read often.

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2.What author (living or dead) would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?

Robinson Jeffers, the California Poet. I get the sense that he was tapped into other quantum-like worlds. His writing is comforting and in a way, simple, and yet, in so few words transports me into those other worlds. I have many questions for him.

Landmarks Cover ImageThe Earth Has a Soul: C.G. Jung on Nature, Technology and Modern Life Cover ImageQuiet Until the Thaw Cover Image

3.What books are currently on your bedside table?

— Alexandra Fuller’s galley for Quiet Until the Thaw (2017), in which she tells historic stories through the eyes of Lakota characters.

— Landmarks by Robert MacFarlane (2016), a beautiful book about the language of the wild.

— The Earth Has A Soul by Meredith Sabini (2002). I love thinking of the collective unconscious as where our entire evolutionary history is stored.

 

 

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As part of our mission to promote authors, the joy of reading, and to help independent booksellers, The Book Jam has paired with the The Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vermont to present an ongoing series entitled “3 Questions”. In it, we pose three questions to authors with upcoming visits to the bookstore. (We have a rotating list of six possible questions to ask just to keep things interesting.) Their responses are posted on The Book Jam during the days leading up to their engagement. Our hope is that this exchange will offer insight into their work, will encourage readers to attend these special author events, and ultimately, will inspire some great reading.

Willy Loman's Reckless Daughter or Living Truthfully Under Imaginary Circumstances Cover ImageSolitary Bee Cover Image

This “3 Questions” features two poets Elizabeth Powell and Chelsea Woodard. These award winning poets have authored numerous volumes of poetry. Both authors will visit the Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vermont at 7 pm on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 to discuss poetry and their latest collections. The event is free and open to the public. However, reservations are recommended as space is limited.  Call 802-649-1114 or email info@norwichbookstore.com to save your seat.

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Elizabeth Powell

Elizabeth A. I. Powell’s second book Willy Loman’s Reckless Daughter: Living Truthfully Under Imaginary Circumstances won the Robert Dana Prize in poetry. A Pushcart Prize winner, Ms. Powell has also received a Vermont Council on the Arts grants and a Yaddo fellowship. Her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Barrow Street, Black Warrior Review, Ecotone, Harvard Review, Handsome, Hobart, Indiana Review, Missouri Review, Mississippi Review, Slope, Sugarhouse Review, Ploughshares, Post Road, and elsewhere. Born in New York City, she has lived in Vermont since 1989 with her four children.

A New Selected Poems Cover ImageNine Stories Cover ImageThe Nick Adams Stories Cover Image

1.What three books have helped shape you into the writer you are today, and why?

Galway Kinnell’s Selected Poems….my grandmother gave it to me and the musicality and lyricism  combined with the depth of meaning and metaphor totally blew my mind permanently as a 15 year old. Prior to reading that book, I had the usual suspects, and I had spent my young childhood listening to a record album called something like “The Wit of John F. Kennedy”, and I think listening endlessly and obsessively to that gave me a real sense of tuning in to speech patterns and cadences.

Also, I like what Charles Simic says about good lines of  poetry, that they are like good jokes in phrasing and timing. I grew up also listening to a lot of Groucho Marx and Richard Pryor. The Book of Lists was also important. I love list poems now.

But in terms of books, JD Salinger’s Nine Stories was and is important to my sensibility, how to come at the truth  from an angle.

As a young person I loved Ernest Hemingway’s The Nick Adams Stories. It showed me the perfect sentence. It taught me “that everything is 7/8 below the surface.”

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2.What author (living or dead) would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?

Walt Whitman because he contains multitudes and I like that!

Fortune Smiles: Stories Cover ImageI Must Be Living Twice: New and Selected Poems Cover ImageJesus' Son Cover Image

3.What books are currently on your bedside table?

chelsea woodard - writer, editor, poet, critic and translator

Chelsea Woodard

Chelsea Woodard received her MFA from the Johns Hopkins University and her PhD from the University of North Texas. She earned a BA in Visual Arts and English from Union College. Her poems have appeared in The Threepenny Review, Southwest Review, Best New Poets, Blackbird, 32 Poems and other journals. She currently teaches in New Hampshire where she lives with her husband, Pete.

An Eco-Acoustic Reading of Seamus Heaney's Death of a Naturalist Cover ImageThe Canterbury Tales Cover ImageRonia, the Robber's Daughter Cover Image

1.What three books have helped shape you into the writer you are today, and why?

Seamus Heaney’s Death of a Naturalist has had a large influence on me. The fact that, while he is looking downward and backward in the poems, “digging” into the details of his personal and familial history, he is always looking beyond those things into new territory as well, trying to make whatever “darkness” he finds “echo” somehow. His echoing darkness, to me, is a very resonant image for poetry. Reading the Canterbury Tales in college and then re-reading them, as a graduate student, years later also had a big impact. I was astounded and still am by the music of the Tales, the grittiness of the detail, and the unexpected pathos. Chaucer’s rhyme royal is stunning. I felt, reading the Tales, that I was able to see such a vividly defined worldview through the pilgrims’ stories. I also love how Chaucer gives the female characters such agency, and always read him in the Tales as a sort of pioneer feminist. There are also numerous children’s books that have been formative. One in particular is a book by the Swedish author, Astrid Lindgren, called Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter. I still keep a copy on my bookshelf. Lindgren’s descriptions of the forest and its inhabitants have always stuck with me––the feeling that there are things lurking in the undergrowth both beautiful and terrifying, the sense of awe for the natural world that she expresses even in a story meant for children.
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2.What author (living or dead) would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?

Probably Anthony Hecht. From everything I’ve heard, he was incredibly wise and dignified, and I think his writing is imbued with such grace, intelligence, and gravitas. Also sadness. I would love to sit and talk with him about life, or history, or writing. He was one of the great greats. I wish I could have met him. Second would be Geoffrey Chaucer.

We Are as Gods: Back to the Land in the 1970s on the Quest for a New America Cover ImageThe Wynona Stone Poems Cover ImageThe Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales Cover ImageThe Last Illusion Cover Image3.What books are currently on your bedside table?

A creative nonfiction book called We Are as Gods by Kate Daloz, about the back to the land movement in the 1970s. A friend recommended her book, and I went to her talk in Peterborough this summer––it’s a fascinating and vivid story. Caki Wilkinson’s most recent book, The Wynona Stone Poems, The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales (which I have not started but am looking forward to), Gene Weingarten’s collection, The Fiddler in the Subway, and The Last Illusion, by Porochista Khakpour.

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A newly published collection of poems by beloved  author Shel Silverstein and an article about the works of current US Poet Laureate Philip Levine caused me to pause in my reading of prose and think a bit about poetry.

First, Mr. Levine.  I’d read that Mr. Levine’s work is heavily influenced by Michigan and its auto industry, and was therefore curious to know more about his views of my mother’s home state and of the industry that employed many of my maternal relatives. Thus, I picked up a copy of News of the World  (2009) and perused it this past month.  Due to a rather busy October, I didn’t absorb it all in one setting, but instead enjoyed it periodically over a span of several days.  Sometimes I would start in the middle of the collection. Other times I revisited a poem from a few days before.  And, for some reason, I read section three straight through.  What struck me most were the well-chosen phrases, the pictures of his time spent in Spain and with native Spanish speakers, his scenes from Brooklyn and the honest portraits of lives lived on the assembly lines and in the bars of Detroit, Pontiac and other Midwestern towns. I know the PR prepped me to view his poems as gritty, real and accessible, but I found that they truly are.

 

I then picked up Shel Silverstein’s last volume thinking it would be more of what I remembered from my childhood and what I knew from reading his poetry outloud to my boys.  I was wrong. Perhaps because Everything On It was published posthumously, I was struck by how many poems in this volume deal with death or looking back on a life.  There are still the silly poems such as “Romance” about how an elephant and pelican marry merely because their names are difficult to rhyme, but many seemed tinged with sadness.  Neither of my sons however noticed this melancholy tone when I shared this volume with them. They merely laughed as usual at Mr. Silverstein’s imaginative verse.  As such, I recommend this for adults taking stock of their lives, but also for kids needing a laugh or two.

 

And finally, I re-read parts of Julia Alvarez’s (the writer in residence at Vermon’t Middlebury College)  The Woman I Kept to Myself – the first book of poems that showed me the pleasure poetry can bring.  For many years this volume was my favorite gift to give women turning 40.  This time, it was just a delightful read for me.

High School, English assignments left me with the impression that poetry is supposed to provide insight and clarity. So what enlightenment did these three volumes bring? Hmmm.  Ok, one thought:  with reading, we ideally see what we need to learn, or at least what we are ready to see at that time in our life, or at a most basic level what we want to see due to our own biases. Maybe the joy of poetry is that these lessons are reflected more intensely.

On a practical level what did thinking about poetry bring me?  Three volumes of poems with very different focuses, styles and themes, but all worth reading.

Enjoy and happy reading! –Lisa Christie

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Peter Money Interview (Click to Listen)

We were lucky enough to spend a long, rainy lunch hour with Peter Money, a Vermont poet who hails from such diverse places as Napa, Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, Cape Cod, Ohio, Dublin and currently Brownsville, VT.  The conversation was truly delightful (and eating Lisa’s pizza and sipping tea didn’t hurt either).

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Peter’s description of himself as a scavenger in life and in reading led our conversation through a diverse array of topics including:  reading for the purpose of writing, the power of a gift of a book, the Cape Cod Melody Tent, travel in India and Australia, the difference one person can make in the events of the world – in particular Rachel Corrie to whom Peter’s latest book Che is dedicated – the things we use and keep as bookmarks, empty spaces,  the difference email and the internet make in the serendipity of life and reading as a means of developing empathy.

Sprinkled throughout the conversation were quotes by a former teacher of Peter’s –  Allen Ginsberg (“ordinary is made extraordinary by your attention to it” or  the buddhist reminder “Ground Path Fruition” or thinking of writing as “funky independent thought“).   Peter also modeled a superb teaching technique of being able to circle around and tie seemingly unrelated thoughts together.

Speaking of circling back around: we end this episode by playing a little ditty by Emmylou Harris and Mark Knopfler that not only alludes to one of the themes of our discussion (beach combing) but also provides a mellow finish to a lovely talk.

Actual books we dicussed ranged from:

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Child’s Garden of Verses – First published in 1885, A Child’s Garden of Verses has served as an  introduction to poetry for many generations. Stevenson’s poems celebrate childhood in all its forms.

E.B. White’s works – A writer at The New Yorker and the author of many books of essays, E. B. White also wrote the children’s books Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, and The Trumpet of the Swan.

Gregory Maguire’s Matchless – Every year, NPR asks a writer to compose an original story with a Christmas theme. In 2008, Gregory Maguire reinvented Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Match Girl”.

Justine by Lawrence Durrell – Set among the glamour and corruption of 1930s and 1940s Alexandria, the novels of Durrell’s “Alexandria Quartet” (Justine is the first) follow the shifts in allegiances and situations among a diverse group of characters. Peter carried a copy with him while traveling 30 years ago and had that copy with him when we spoke (complete with original bookmarks).

Iraqi Writer Saadi Youssef who has translated Leaves of Grass and Little Prince into Arabic and whose own work is carried by University of Minnesota Press.

The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard – from the foreword by John R. Stilgoe – A prism through which all worlds from literary creation to housework to aesthetics to carpentry take on enhanced-and enchanted-significances. Every reader of it will never see ordinary spaces in ordinary ways.

Collected Poems of George Oppen – Oppen, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1969, has long been acknowledged as one of America’s foremost modernists.  He was hailed by Ezra Pound as “a serious craftsman, a sensibility which is not every man’s sensibility and which has not been got out of any other man’s book.”

A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel – From tablets to CD-ROM, from book thieves to book burners, bibliophiles and saints, noted essayist Alberto Manguel follows the 4,000-year-old history of the written work whose true hero is the reader.

The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World by Lewis Hyde – The Gift defends creativity and of its importance in a culture increasingly governed by money. This book is cherished by artists, writers, musicians, and thinkers.

Hear Peter read some of his work set to original compositions.

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