(Foy, did you say, Dr. B? Did she say foy?â€”no, I think, oyâ€”as in oy vey?–shh)
Our cryptic and elusive (and sly, no?) title points to a foxy trail: think a little â€œoyâ€ and a lot of â€œfoy,â€ a literal and metaphoric feast that celebrates our new beginnings (think: New Year, resolutions or not) and sustains us for the journey ahead, a feast for which we pack it in, pack it up for later on our travels and travails. Foy is a theme we get to by the route of the fox, who leads us astray, off-road, off-trail, for what is wild in our language, sweet as grapes; I was hunting for fox in Funk and Wagnells and alighted upon foy, the feast before a journey, something we need to begin things right. The Poetry Slow Down will take our sweet time to consider the nature of essential feasts before journeys, whether a New Year or a road trip or Odyssey, homeward bound. We begin the homage to a mirthful, tender, grateful hour on the eve of the New Year with William Cullen Bryant, toast with a cup of kindness old acquaintance Robert Burns, linger with Ted Hughes’ “The Thought Fox,” savor Edna St. Vincent Millay’s philosophy, dally with Dr. Seuss and Doctor Desoto, William Steig’s genius mouse who takes on a fox patient, and hear Robin Becker’s foxy celebration poem, as well as Sheila Nickerson’s beast sampler, and this leads us to “Smell” by William Carlos Williams, notes of Gary Snyder on “Berry Feast,” and on to talk about the “foy” from the irrepressible Isaac Asimov, whose birthday we celebrate, and who is revealed as not only a Shakespeare, Milton, Swift, Bible, Greek, Roman (etc.) devotee, and poet of limericks (along with John Ciardi), but who has a study guide out on Gilbert and Sullivan, his favorites. We consider the “news” and the need for poetry-trained leaders of civic society (think Alexander the Great, Nelson Mandela, Lincoln, Churchill, King, Eleanor Roosevelt, etc.). And returning to Bryant and his role in the (poet) Lincoln’s candidacy for president, and picture book editions (one by John Muir!), we pause to reflect on the coincidence between Asimov’s study guides and Bryant’s translations of Homer. Oh! and we foy-around with Charles Tripi’s writing about Blake on fox, and a suspicious letter (think: poet-made?) illuminating what happens when words are not used wisely, the need for creativity and connection with creatures and systems of the earth, and on that note, stay tuned for deep ecologist Gary Snyder, and of course, poetic recipes for thriving in and surviving the fray. . .Thank you for listening and your great contributions. Hear hear! Â© Barbara Mossberg 2011
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Professor Barbara Mossberg:
“We know writing is transformational for the writer, but for the world, the real world? Cultural data from earliest recorded history shows literary arts transforming social, political, civic, and environmental dimensions of our lives for war and peace and civil and Â human rights.”
Dr. Mossberg believes that [writing] has the power to change the world. That conviction helped earn her the position of poet in residence for the city of Pacific Grove.