April 12, 2016

Sunday, April 11, 2010

NPM 50 State Tour: Kentucky

Today on our tour of state poets laureate, I've got a writing prompt to share. But first...

Kentucky is the 15th state (as of June 1, 1792). The state takes its name from an Iroquoian word meaning "land of tomorrow." (Here's the source.) Its nickname is the Bluegrass State.

You might like this website: Dumb & Stupid Laws of Kentucky. Just make sure your bees get a physical before you visit this state.

Here's an article about the history of poets laureate in Kentucky, a program which dates back to 1926. Kentucky's poet laureate is traditionally inducted on April 24, birthday of Kentuckian and first U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Penn Warren.

There's a fascinating interview with current poet laureate Gurney Norman here, in which he discussing growing up in Appalachia during WWII.

He is the author of "Old Wounds, New Words: Poems from the Appalachian Poetry Project." It's a collection of poems by 90 poets from the Southern Appalachian Region.

I wasn't able to find any of Norman's poetry online, so I'm sharing a poem by Kentuckian Wendell Berry and a related writing prompt.

How To Be a Poet

by Wendell Berry

(to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.   
Sit down. Be quiet.   
You must depend upon   
affection, reading, knowledge,   
skill—more of each   
than you have—inspiration,   
work, growing older, patience,   
for patience joins time   
to eternity. Any readers   
who like your poems,   
doubt their judgment.   


Breathe with unconditional breath   
the unconditioned air.   
Shun electric wire.   
Communicate slowly. Live   
a three-dimensioned life;   
stay away from screens.   

Writing prompt: Wendell Berry's poem, "How to Be a Poet," begins with an epigraph: (to remind myself). Try writing a poem borrowing Berry's. What do you need to remind yourself of?

Listen to some Bluegrass music while I wash the car. We're on our way to Tennessee, sixteenth state on our National Poetry Month tour.


Jen said...

Nice entry. I thought the silly laws link was entertaining, though, bee could probably stand to have check-up required once again (poor things have been nearly wiped out). I like Berry's poem, it's reassuring that other writers need reminders. My favorite part is,
"You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have". How comforting.

Author Amok said...

My favorite line is "breathe with unconditional breath." The more I think about it, the more it says.

Nice to see your face, my friend!