Who understands e=mc2? It takes a genius, right? Do we think genius is beyond us? That genius is Einstein maybe, but not you? Do we think Einstein is in his own orbit, far removed from us? We may think knowledge of the world is far from what we can grasp in our everyday life–and thus let it go as an intellectual luxury we cannot afford, and turn back to our daily reality, the shoelace and the biscuit, the diagnosis, the wine, the tomato harvested from the garden. Love—worry, trying so hard to do the right thing—these are our joys and work. And as for Emerson, well, is he just impossible to understand to the point of irrelevance?
Let us consider poetry as necessary for life as soil. Just because nutritious soil is necessary to life, all our lives on earth, does not mean it is not downright miraculous. A little clay here, rock there, dust, remains, odds and ends of minerals, a hodgepodge of organic and inorganic grow beanstalks for giants. And so poetry, remarkable makings of new life and old life, what is mud and what shines, the quotidian reality revealed as utterly remarkable. It turns out nursery rhymes are literal. People live in shoes. The dish runs away with the spoon. When we figure out dark energy, phantom energy, we’ll know this was right. We’ll know it is violin music that makes the chemicals in soil come to life, the spirit, God’s breath. As we consider harvest days, and pumpkins in the fields, it’s not the pumpkin spice we love in all the products now flavored with pumpkin, it’s the orange, the roundness we want, that we taste, it’s the goodness of its soil that makes the orange and the round, the remarkable of everything we see, everything we are. This is the dust of our minds, of our spirits, this not taking for granted what is here, this is the spin, the miracle of it.c Barbara Mossberg 2019
Food is on my mind, as you see, but on your mind as well. I know this, because you have written me about our “helpful banana bread” series on the poetry of food and hunger. So I’m in. This show does include an original recipe for pumpkin soup, so keep your pens handy—you remember pens—you remember hands—you remember hands—of course you do—you’re the POETRY SLOW DOWN, you’re evolved, you’re ancient wisdom on which so much depends, your ears are what the doctor ordered, the earth needs now: so HEAR’s the skinny (alas) on food from the point of view of your radio host, I’m your Professor Barbara Mossberg, aka Dr. B, produced by our faithful Zappa Johns, yes THAT Zappa, a West Coast commitment along the tectonic plates, and speaking of plates, and plating it, let’s begin, let’s gather at the table, for the Contents! The Tableof Contents! Ah, I get it, Dr. B! Of course you do—you’re the POETRY SLOW DOWN.
As we celebrate Walt Whitman’s birthday, we consider how seriously as a poet he took joy (very). As it turns out, in fact, poets taking joy seriously is a thing. We’re slowing down today (you know you move too fast) to consider this phenomenon, and ferret out the gloom in June that besets us on this journey of ours. We’ll hear from bossy poets and obedient poets on taking joy seriously—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, e.e. cummings, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, W.B. Yeats, Charles Tripi, Mary Oliver, Shakespeare, Whitman, Brian Doyle. As our family says when we begin a trip, Hi ho! Let us go then, you and I, as T.S. Eliot said, let us arise and go then, as W.B. Yeats said, let’s go, says bc Mossberg, your joyful host today, with our Producer Zappa Johns, for the Poetry Slow Down–seriously joyful considering us seriously and our remarkable and necessary capacity for joy!
Please help yourself to an hour (plucked from Daylight Savings Time), slowing down (because you know you move too fast) for the up of the ThePoetrySlowDown that aspires to be a Holy Fire Reiki for your spirit (as poetry perhaps always has been). With our Producer Zappa Johns, on California’s Central Coast, and me, your host Professor Barbara Mossberg, known to my students and certain bartenders as Dr. B, you are taking this time for yourself to dwell in mystery and wonder, as Paul Simon sings it, or the terrain of miracle, as Einstein conceives it, or Possibility, as the quantum practitioner Emily Dickinson says is a place and way she dwells.
A perspective on how we (should) spend our daily energies. A bossiness of poets weigh in, from the late (but always here) Mary Oliver, William Stafford, Raymond Carver, Emily Dickinson, Billy Collins, Lorine Neidecker, Alice Dunbar -Nelson, Gerald Manley Hopkins, William Butler Yeats, Christopher Smart, Richard Wilbur, John Milton, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Doty, e.e. cummings (who loved the world as much?). There’s a lot of loving going on in the work of poets, and the world needs it: maybe this is all our work, loving the world. Yes, I guess, we’re pregaming Valentine’s Day, The Poetry Slow Down with Professor Barbara Mossberg, Produced by Zappa Johns.
You’re under the weather, my friend, feeling stressed and blue! Dr. B has a potion that will do: It’s light as a feather, word flour and fat, called for when the world seems sour and flat! Just when you’re going to fall on your face, Rumi’s people run in with stretchers of grace, talking about a mighty kindness, and Wendell Berry is right there with a flighty mindfulness. You may be able to tell, evolved listener as you are, I’ve been reading Dr. Suess, beloved inspirational star, and the rhymes are coming in fast and loose. But like all dishes we need, a little of that and this, we’re stirring in Dante (in dark days in the middle of our lives), and Cavafy (who says embrace the strife and hives). And more rich fare to air, and that is only part of what’s in store, in our toolbox, our toolkit, our wheelhouse galore, a pantry of angst whisperer and poetic roar. It’s the news feed you need, the news you heed, the news without which “men die miserably every day” (William Carlos Williams), our POETRY SLOW DOWN, with your host Professor Barbara Mossberg (aka Dr. B) and Producer Zappa (that Zappa) Johns, at barbaramossberg.com, live from Eugene, Oregon and California’s Central Coast, with notes of east coast lake district and college riverbank towns, Texas hill country watering holes, Los Angeles plains and mountain lakes, Colorado peak towns where poetry thrives. We have questions for you on our show today, and you can send them our way at email@example.com, or Barbara.firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll receive—and you can write to request– our I SLOW DOWN FOR THE POETRY SLOW DOWN or NO PLACE SAFE FROM POETRY bumper sticker, because you do, and inhabit that space where poetry is welcome. And on that note, I’m grateful to you, who hear this hum, to your ear, to your being here.