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ROBERT BLY - WINTER 2006 FEATURE  

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FEATURE

Richard Jackson
  "Language-Driven Poetry: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE PRINCIPLE OF GENERATING POEMS" begins with Dante and Petrarch and walks us through poems of Wordsworth, Keats, Robert Frost, Andre Breton, Cesare Pavese, Richard Wilbur, Wislawa Szymborska, Anna Akhmatova, all the way to Heather McHugh to demonstrate that the imaginative vision possible to us through poetry exists not in the dressing up of ideas, feelings or events that the poet tries to find words to describe, but in its exploration of language, "not merely a record, but a gesture always trying to escape itself, escape our human condition towards something universalÖ"

Richard Jackson

"Place Message Here",
"Letter From Slovenia",
"Letter From Tuscany",
"Letter to Stern From Arezzo",
and "If I Can't Love You", all new poems by Richard Jackson


Robert Bly

An interview by Paula Gordon and Bill Russell, a special audio program of The Paula Gordon Show.


Christian Wiman
"A Darker Shade of Grey: Christian Wimanís Hard Night," a review by Chelsea Rathburn points to Wimanís work as expression of the poetís awesome responsibility to the power of language. "What words or harder gift/ does the light require of me," Wiman writes, "carving from the dark/ this difficult tree?"
HARD NIGHT Copper Canyon Press, 2005.
 
   

Robert Bly

Robert Bly, among America’s foremost poets, has been writing poetry for 50 years. Between Silence in the Snowy Fields (Wesleyan University Press, 1967) and the ghazals collected in My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy (Harper Collins, 2005) are numerous books of poetry. The Insanity of Empire: A Book of Poems Against the Iraq War (Ally Press, 2004), continues his lifetime commitment to political activism. His other books include Iron John (Perseus Books, 1990), The Sibling Society (Addison-Wesley, 1996), influential translations and anthologies. Mr. Bly's many honors include the National Book Award and two Guggenheim fellowships. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he continues to write.

Robert Bly - Interview

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Rhyme and Sense

An interview excerpted from the conversation led by Paula Gordon and Bill Russell of The Paula Gordon Show: Conversations with People at the Leading EdgeSM


Listen to the full program:   (requires Real Player)
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

Atlanta / November 13, 2005


Paula Gordon: Nature and culture are equally worthy subjects for poems, says Robert Bly, an eminent American poet, translator of poetry and literary editor. Fifty years ago, Mr. Bly's Silence in the Snowy Fields established his fame, now he celebrates European culture in the ancient Islamic ghazal ("GU-zul") form.

Robert Bly: One of the things I love about the Islamic world is the amount of praise that's in it. A little poem "Shabistari and The Secret Garden" ends like this:

Robert, those high spirits don't prove that you are
A close friend of truth, but you have learned to drive
Your buggy over the prairies of human sorrow.

One thing that both reading and great art helps us to do is to '...drive our buggies over the prairies of human sorrow.' And at the same time, we're not caught in that sorrow, we drive our buggies over them and pass them. But our children KNOW if we are able to feel the depths of the sorrows of our ancestors and even those of our parents. And they appreciate that.

PG: Mr. Bly is deeply concerned about those children.

RB: What you are witnessing is a loss--losses of what our grandfathers and grandmothers knew. One of those losses is reading. Another is the idea that there's nothing else beside the rotten marketplace. We've lost the idea that there is a depth, something below and something above.

The adults have betrayed the children. We've sacrificed the young ones to this stupid idea that the media deserves attention. Television dumps junk into the minds of the young. What is it, three hours a day is the normal amount children today watch television? It's human filth, being poured in by these optimistic idiots who run the television shows and don't care about humanity. Do not care at all. You should allow your children a maximum of 20 to 30 minutes a day of television viewing. The rest of the time, you say, 'If you don't read, you don't eat, make up your mind.'

What will it be like to live in a country where no one reads? Adults have simply copped out of their responsibility, become children themselves. It's very hard to find an adult any more, when the adult would be a person who says, 'The children need to learn to read!' Instead, the children simply sit there, absorbing that television, without having to do ANYthing. It's a murder of the human psyche!

PG: Can poetry save us from the error of our ways?

RB: No. Poetry is a reminder. It's a small thing. But it insists on the important things in life. Rainer Maria Rilke says,

Sometimes a man stands up during supper
And walks outdoors. And keeps on walking
Because of a thing that stands far in the East.
And his children say blessings on him,
As if he had died....

I LOVE that poem of Rilke's because it says that at a certain point in everyone's life, you need to get rid of the washing machine and your obsession with the washing machine, and you need to head toward that place in the East. And that's not what's happening. What we need to do is do a LOT of grieving.

PG: And when the grieving is complete?

RB: Some form of praising takes place. Those who are unable to grieve cannot praise. If you grieve your parents enough, then you're able to praise them and not hold all those miserable little angers you had against them.

One problem with philosophers -- they don't laugh enough. I was VERY surprised to find out, as my poems pick up more and more of the past of human beings, the ancient culture, more and more of the grief and the suffering of human beings -- the poems become funnier! I don't understand that, but I LOVE it. I feel that there's some way that as the mind gets more mature, in the midst of a lot of grief, it's able to dance a little!


© 1997-2006 The Paula Gordon Show


Paula Gordon's days as a television host culminated with an Emmy nomination in 1977 for "Small World," a weekly half-hour show on Chicago’s WMAQTV, NBC’s owned and operated station, where she was also a station announcer.  She then spent almost two decades in the business world as she and husband Bill Russell created, built, then sold one of the Southeast’s premier film and video companies.  Producer and host of The Paula Gordon Show, Paula also leads The Clarion Group, a business consultancy. A Midwesterner, she lives with her husband live in Atlanta.  She is the host of Musical Wonders from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

In addition to being co-host of The Paula Gordon Show, Bill Russell serves as the research vice president of Clarion Group with particular expertise in information systems and infrastructure support. Bill's degree in systems engineering from Stanford University ('68) was a springboard for a lifetime supporting the knowledge and communications needs of corporations, from designing systems solutions for Levi Strauss, to start-up companies and state-wide broadcast television programming. A world traveler, Bill serves as President of Public Intelligence, Inc. and of Investigations Group, Inc.  He was born and raised in Alabama. 

 

 

 

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© 2005 The Cortland Review