THE EYES HAVE IT: WHEN SO MUCH DEPENDS UPON A RED WHEELBARROW GLAZED WITH RAIN BESIDE THE WHITE CHICKENS. . . HMM . . . OBVIOUSLY SO MUCH DEPENDS UPON IT, BUT WHAT? WHAT IS POETRY’S NEWS ANYWAY? WHAT IS A WASTE OF TIME? WHO BROUGHT UP WASTE OF TIME? INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW.

A consideration of what we consider slow news, and what’s at stake, for our own survival and for society at large. In which we take up the fate of earth and all life (including spiders—and you’ll be glad) (you truly will) in poems by Walt Whitman, William Carlos Williams, Brian Doyle, Mary Oliver, James Wright, Theodore Roethke, Wendell Berry, Cynthia Wolloch, Elizabeth Bishop, Mark Doty, Robert Burns, Walt Whitman, Stanley Kunitz, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Thomas Lux, Shakespeare, Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, Leo Lionni, Maxfield Poizat-Newcomb, Caden O’Connell, and more. In such poems, so-called pests and weeds and other unloved creatures thrive by our own hand, thrive by our notice, thrive by our attention, thrive by our love, thrive by our gratitude: we’ll hear valentines to earth—love is still in the air! Yes, even Spiders and what not live, and we live! So what matters? So much. And thus we sort out the news we need, the news we heed, the news without which men die miserably every day( —thank you William Carlos Williams). 

Let us go then, welcoming you to the Poetry Slow Down, you know you move too fast, we’re produced on the West Coast by Zappa Johns, I’m based here in Eugene, Oregon, Track Capital of the World, for poetic feet, podcast at barbaramossberg.com, and we’re taking time out from the headline news, late-breaking fast-breaking heart-breaking news, for the news you need, the news we heed, the news without which men die miserably every day. Well, what do I mean by this, exactly, as I invite you to slow down . . . these words are taken from a long poem by William Carlos Williams, who was featured in a feature film Paterson a few years ago, named for the epic poem he wrote about his home town. In “To Asphodel, That Greeny Flower,” Williams says, my heart rouses . . . and he should know!

What’s in these poems, anyway? He claims it will save our life and make us happy. Then he writes a poem like “The Red Wheelbarrow.” What is he talking about? How can he say that? What depends? Let’s look at some poems that call on us to be happy and to save our life—not waste it . . . 

© Barbara Mossberg 2019

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