What the Old Guys and Wise Guys mean to today’s young leaders and scholars—a snapshot onto our world, a wake-up call, and that’s waking up to smell the coffee and see with amazement the morning sun rising gloriously. To the tunes of Van Morrison’s “Dwelling on the Threshold,” Mel Carter’s “Hold Me Thrill Me,” Joni Mitchell’s “Circle Game” and Patti LaBelle (Lil Kim, Pink, Christine Aguilera) “Lady Marmalade,” we’ll hear Emerson and Einstein, Galway Kinnel, Emily Dickinson, James Wright, Wordsworth, John Muir, Lewis Thomas, T.S. Eliot, Thoreau, Bill Holm, D. H. Lawrence, Kabir, Chuck Tripi, Marie Curie, Milton Glaser, Pablo Neruda, e.e. cummings, Mary Oliver, Nancy Willard, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jennifer Franklin, and others, and feature Gerald Durrell, eloquent and poignant voices our peeps on the threshold have taken to heart, and taken heart from.
To the music of “Gravity” by The Perfect Sphere, “Defying Gravity,” Wicked, “Fly Me to the Moon,” Frank Sinatra, “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” Stylistics, “Love (Is All There Is), Beatles, and “Skiddamarink,” we start with William Stafford’s poem “You, Reading This, Be Ready,” and the so-called “news” from the world of physics that Einstein’s theory of relativity predicted gravitational waves. (I know you know what I’m going to say, that poets predicted this, talked all about it, and that is true, of course, beginning with our claiming Einstein as ours, a poet, his e=mc2 being all about the equals sign, the genius in seeing one thing connected to another: metaphor! I’m just sayin.)
A tree-mendous show that takes off from
Shakespeare’s tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,/
Sermons in stones, and good in everything to reflect on the headline “news” this week about trees from The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries From a Secret World” by Peter Wohlleben, and what poetry has to do with it, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Muir, of course, and our ability and need for story to survive, when “survival is insufficient” (Star Trek), reflecting on Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael, Douglas Adams’Goodbye and Thanks for All the Fish, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Thoreau’s Walden, and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and NPR Radio Lab reports of research thereon.
With notes of Scott Russell Sanders’ Divine Animal, Thomas Berry’s Dream of the Earth, Bruno Bettelheim’s The Uses of Enchantment, and Robert M. Sapolsky’s A Primate’s Memoir (A Neuroscientist’s Unconventional Life Among the Baboons). On the PoetrySlowDown,radiomonterey.com, produced by Zappa Johns, podcast BarbaraMossberg.com, the news we need, the news we heed, the news “without which men die miserably every day” (William Carlos Williams). We’re talking about what’s at stake in the way we tell, and listen to, and hear, the story of our earth.
We’re here (hear hear!) slowing down (screech! You know you move too fast) for our Poetry Slow Down, and my dear and beloved listening community, gathered around our campfire here of radio waves, it’s so delicious, what science has been bringing out recently, about rocks and trees and animals, we’re all on the same team earth, realities that poets have been talking about in ways that save, and can save, our earth. By poets, I mean people who use language imaginatively, if not also agonizingly, to do justice to the gift of consciousness, to rise to the occasion of revelations about our earth, and our role, perhaps, to see it, express it, and ultimately, hopefully, to save it in the process. . . .
We hear about the role of poetry for Lincoln in The Yosemite Grant of 1864, John Muir’s inner poet as he walks into the new preserved area in 1868, and writes to defend it to become a national park, and how his writings about the environment to transform our thinking about it, our “story,” are recreated in Daniel Quinn’s creation of Ishmael, a gorilla who is a teacher teaching us a new story about earth that can save us all . . . we hear Emerson’s inspiring role inspiring Thoreau and Muir about this, who are all inspired by Shakespeare, and we hear about stories, imagined and recounted from life, about the way we can learn from earth’s creations, if . . . we slow down, to listen, and make the morning last, and earth last . . . .(at least another 5 billion years). We pause to ponder the role of children’s stories that give voices and wisdom to the natural world, including E.B. White’s poet spider Charlotte, who saves Wilbur’s life, and the saying, What’s the story, morning glory, connecting it to our show’s theme song by Simon and Garfunkle, a poet out for a morning walk asking of what he sees, “whatcha knowin?”—like Mary Oliver, slowing down to pay attention, a way to spend our “one wild and precious life.” And more . . . thank you for listening! Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or twitter at @barbaramossberg
THE POETRY SLOW DOWN
With Professor Barbara Mossberg
Produced by Zappa Johns
© Barbara Mossberg 2016