Live from Denton, Texas, where poetry grows tall and thick as thistles
Occasion: time (n.), case, juncture, event, instance, incident, occurrence, circumstance, point, spot, position; chance (n.) possibility, opportunity, opening, season, contingency, stage; reason (n.), cause, ground, motive, justification, rationale, explanation, excuse, basis; cause (v.) motivate, induce, prompt, elicit, effect, give rise to, bring about
The news you need, the news you heed, the news of “difficult” and “despised” poems “without which men die miserably every day” (Wm. Carlos Williams)
On the occasion of Earth Day, Shakespeare’s Birthday, John Muir’s Birthday, March for Science, and “everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes” (e.e. cummings)
USE YOUR WORDS: IN A TIME OF TERRORISM, CLIMATE CHANGE, RESISTANCE AND RESILIENCE: HOW POETRY MATTERS; HOW WORDS MATTER—AND HOW EVERYTHING IN MY LIFE TURNS TO—AND INTO—POETRY
Our show these four weeks’ celebration of April, “national poetry month,” and going a-Maying, live each week from the Northwest, central Texas, the deep South, and East Coast, features poets in the news speaking up and out about the news, writers whose lives are impacted by poets, and the wisdom of poets in how we use our time, marching with our poetic feet. I confess to being slowed down by fried peach and cherry pies, buttermilk pies, brisket, jalapeno biscuits, barbeque beans, potato salad, and an evening breeze through mesquite trees, while a slice of moon, a sky’s smile, gives a loony glow, but we can slow down with poetry, poetry on our mind. We’re live on the ranch of Poetry Slow Down listener the rhyming Egster, Denton, Texas, where the Texas poet laureates are reading; we’re produced on the West Coast by Zappa Johns, and so far, we have had homage to Harold Bloom’s new book on Shakespeare, a reading of Falstaff as life and death—a wonderful review in the NYT by Jeanette Winterson (let us all subscribe to newspapers and journals and keep our citizen eyes and ears on the scene for us), and a great poem by Garcia Lorca, whose life (and death) inspired Pablo Neruda, whose poetry inspired citizenship—see the new film “Neruda”—whom we’ll hear as a paean to earth science, and I’ll share with you what I wrote in response to just one recent terror attack, and the role of poetry in my life as a faculty member trying to be useful in students’ lives, and the role of poetry in education about climate change (it is still legal to use that phrase here)—I know, I know! There is so much to say, when it comes to poetry and its role in our civic culture, consciousness, conscience, courage, community! So let’s get started, let’s get on our way with our poetic feet, and last week we began with a Spanish poet, whose crime was being beloved as a poet, because . . . words matter, and when people love words that love the earth, and intend to do harm to earth and its creatures, they become enemies, and thus at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, fascists marched the young, fragile Garcia Lorca to a field, handed him a shovel, and at gunpoint had him dig his own grave, and executed him. This so shocked Pablo Neruda, visiting Spain at that time as a diplomat from Chili, that he committed to poetry that could express earth and social justice. He himself ended up being killed, it is thought, by the same kind of military regime, and when the soldiers came to shake him up, he said, “the only thing that’s dangerous here is my poetry.” I’ll reread Lorca’s poem, then Neruda’s—a great sciency poem. Lorca had written, it seems to me now, prophetically—and it frames our love, this earth day, this John Muir birthday, this bard birthday day, for earth through the lens of the human imagination, whose love of earth is inextricable from consciousness of our own complicated humanity . . .
© Barbara Mossberg 2017