I find myself thinking, what you would see is
more of everything else, but not the mountain. Another Dodge veteran, Sharon Olds, was one of several poets who brought up Pablo Neruda’s “Odes to Simple Things.” She read an ode to toilets. Another: “Ode to a Tampon.” In keeping with the form, she elevated these objects with her choice of language and descriptions. But Olds also had us laughing about our own discomfort with bodily functions.
I begin school poetry residencies talking to children about how all subject matter is fair game in poetry. Olds is a poet who explores the “unmentionable” parts of our existence -- our bodies & how they operate. I’d never heard Ted Kooser read before. He completed his term as U.S. Poet Laureate this summer. People cheered before, during, and after his reading. Kooser read a poem about his mother’s death that made me cry (softie!) In "Pearl," he describes visiting an elderly aunt to deliver the news. In the poem, he knocks on the door and says, “It’s Vera’s boy,” realizing that the death has taken him back to childhood. You can hear Kooser read the poem, “Pearl,” here: http://www.poetrypoetry.com/Features/TedKooser/TedKooser.php Linda Pastan is a fellow Marylander. Her subject matter -- marriage, family, parenting – appeals to me. She read a list poem, “Because.” It describes the reasons why she said “yes” when her husband asked her to marry him. It’s a theme she also explores in “I Married You”: I married you for all the wrong reasons, charmed by your dangerous family history, by the innocent muscles, bulging like hidden weapons under your shirt, by your naive ties, the colors of painted scraps of sunset. Read the rest of Pastan’s poem here: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19483 Whew! What a marathon. Poets sometimes say that the Dodge Festival elevates them to rock-star status: the lights, thousands of seats filled with cheering fans. But fame is different for great poets than it is for musicians, actors, athletes. Poets aren’t disposable as they age. If the Dodge crowd is any indication, we want our poets to combine wisdom and a sense of humor about the human experience.
More to come…including What poetry books for kids can you find at the Dodge Poetry Festival’s book tent?Head over to Two Writing Teachers for more Poetry Friday. They're hosting today: http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/2008/10/03/were-hosting-poetry-friday-today/#comment-5238