“i who have died am alive again today, and this is the sun’s birthday, and this is the birthday of life, and of love and wings, and the gay great happening illimitably earth” –e.e. cummings WELCOME to our Poetry Slow Down . . .I’m your host Professor Barbara Mossberg, we’re produced by Zappa Johns, a fact for which we pause to acknowledge the immortal Frank Zappa, who died on this day, but, as a Mother of Invention, is alive again today, we’re slowing down to make the morning last . . . You know you move too fast!
“The explorer finds little evidence for any of the way Homer describes Troy . . . Yet here, in the mind’s eye, stood an awe-inspiring city with soaring battlements dominating the plans. Homer and the bards were not deliberate liars, they were describing the place as poets. The magic of their words took a minor citadel and turned it into a stupendous stronghold immortalized in their descriptions. This is a credit to poetic imagination . . . [the poet] takes human figures and transmutes them into heroes. He inflates ordinary places so as to make them seem vast and impressive.” This, Poetry Slow Down, seems a great way to understand how epic poetry can inspire mere us to see our lives as heroic—no, not mere us—because what poets have their fingers on the pulse of, us, is the magnitude, I think, of our actual being; we are large to ourselves, our hungers, our pains, our fears, our hopes, our joys . . . the obstacles in the path, blocking our dreams, are huge to us—monsters, giants, huge forces . . . and every day, we confront and face them, and it requires bravery to be us, regular us, strength, resolve, resilience. . . When we read these poems describing the taking on of larger monstrous forces, it’s our inner life we are experiencing . . . a reality. Cervantes in the 1500s shows a man reading epic who transforms a dispiriting everyday life into something heroic. Paul Farmer, reading this literature, believes he can do something, be something . . . more . . . useful. To “shine in use,” as Tennyson says in “Ulysses.”
To occasions, when we’re knocked down, low, heavy heart, how we have it in us to do so, how we’re called on to do so, called for, and what poetry has to do with it. A rousing show, to lift, hoist, heave us aloft–down to earth wisdom from THE PoetrySlowDown with Professor Mossberg, “the news we need, the news we heed, the news without which men die miserably every day” (and we won’t let that happen, ever). And on this note we sing of Leonard Cohen, a supermoon pulling our heart’s tides.
Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.—Einstein
I’m trying to find something true that can’t be expressed by math.—J.D. Roberts
Can haiku save the day? We know sonnets can. It’s all about the math. It’s all about the equals sign, the existential triumph of it, the metaphor.
When you’re in the dark woods, and the way is lost, and a lion, leopard, and she-wolf are snarling, blocking your way, you (evolved radio show listener) might think of Dante’s Rx, the Roman epic poet Virgil, or Rumi’s peoples who come running with stretchers of grace, to take you through hell and out of it, or, the kitchen? That’s what I’m thinking too. What you have at hand may be just what the Dr. (B) ordered, and that’s the ingredients for banana bread. It’s October, the days are dark and darker, and we have more and more need of all things yellow, red, and orange, so here’s a show with your own Poetry Slow Down host, plating recipes. So come on in, my cherished peoples, grab a plaid blanket, and we’ll talk about crisis du jour with soup de jour, chef solutions, the poetry way. Hear what and who’s being eaten, who’s not eating, all the dish, delish, we’ll dish it out.
Sunday, Noon-1 pm, PST, radiomonterey.com
© Barbara Mossberg
The Dynamite Genius of Bob Dylan and the Nobel Prize Committee, Dynamic Connection Between Nobel and Dylan: What is literature? Who’s asking? All of a sudden, everyone is. And the point is, it is Everyone. The Odyssey was sung. We teach it today as literature. When poets take to the stage rather than the page: our show today considers the case for Dylan’s music as literature as old as the hills.
Criticism is said to have killed an enthusiastic diva and John Keats and been dead wrong (and snarky) about . . . well, name your favorite—Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Henry David Thoreau, Scott Fitzgerald, J.D. Salinger, Henry Miller, we love these stories of not the last laugh but the continuing and eternal comedy of immortal life, the poet’s respect for the Truth and Beauty of the living word.