To music of Counting Crows, Lady Gaga covering Carol King (“You’ve Got a Friend”—and you do), Billy Joel “Piano Man” at Shea Stadium the night before its demise, Boys to Men “End of the Road,” and the dulcet pipes of Dr. B singing “you are my sunshine” and “let me call you sweetheart,” we’re gathering round the PoetrySlowDown campfire as we always have, to hear poetry in days of 9-11, concerned as we are with developments in the world. We need each other, as we always have, and turn to Homer, Rumi, Jane Hirshfield, Pablo Neruda, the Tupelo Press 30-30 Poets Team for September, Mark Twain, Douglas Adams, Rilke, Shakespeare; taking heart from Star Trek’s “survival is insufficient,” and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven which holds that in life’s extremities only the greatest art will do, and has a roving tattooed gang performing King Lear (and a symphony orchestra) amid the ruins of civilization. We explore how Lear informs all these poems and books, and Rumi (and Homer) were there first, to know how kind is ¾ kin, how we belong to each other and our earth, and how the answer is love and peace—as always, and now more than ever.
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Producer Zappa Johns, © Barbara Mossberg 2015