Thursday, June 07, 2007

Witter Bynner, You're Going To Have a Bitter Winter

Or so Hart Crane, in his cups, told Bynner one night. And it seems that the Academy of American Poets is ready to hasten him into it.

Why is there no mention of either Bynner or the Witter Bynner Foundation on the New Mexico page of their Poetry Map?

A little background -- this is a new feature of the Academy's website, and a kinda cool one. As they describe it:

Take a journey through the country's vast array of poetry resources and discover local landmarks, evocative poems, neighborhood celebrations, and hometown heroes. With countless new information added, each state page now features local conferences, festivals, event listings, poetry-friendly bookstores, journals, presses, as well as state-specific poets, poems, and poetic history.

But the journey has a few holes. Marvin Bell is not listed in Iowa, and his importance to the state (he's an ex-poet laureate) and to the Iowa Workshop cannot be overstated.

I'd have liked to see Victor di Suvero included among the New Mexico poets -- one of the founders of PEN New Mexico, the new Mexico Book Association, and the Poetry Center of New Mexico, he helped put the New Mexico poetry scene on the map, and he should be on AAP map.

But can they have left off Witter Bynner. From the time of his arrival in Santa Fe in 1922 to his death in 1968, no one -- with the possible exception of D. H. Lawrence -- was more important in establishing New Mexico's literary presence. The foundation he endowed continues to do important work for poetry.

Here's the foundation:

Through a bequest from Witter Bynner in 1972, The Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry perpetuates the art of poetry. The foundation promotes poetry in American culture and encourages grant proposals that expand awareness of the positive effects of poetry on society.

Here's a poem by Bynner:


I come and go
And never stay.
I pick and choose
A night, a day,
I find, I lose,
I laugh along,
I will not know
Right things from wrong.

I pity those
Who pity me,
I ask no boon,
But being free . . .
And so the moon,
My polished stone,
Shines and shows
I lie alone.

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