Thursday, March 26, 2009

Death of poetry? Again?

Why are fewer people reading poetry? Newsweek poses the question -- is poetry on the way out?

A few thoughts: Newsweek says

the number of adults reading poetry had continued to decline, bringing poetry's readership to its lowest point in at least 16 years.

Sixteen years isn't a hugely long time. Who was all that popular back in 1993? Someone, I guess. In any case, if these figures are right, they're indicative of a cycle more than anything else.

Newsweek goes on to say:

Sunil Iyengar, the NEA's director of the Office of Research and Analysis, says the agency can't answer with certainty why fewer adults are reading poetry. He and others believed the opposite would be true, largely because of poetry's expansion onto the Internet. "In fact," he says, "part of our surmise as to why fiction reading rates seem to be up might be due to greater opportunities through online reading. But we don't know why with poetry that's not the case."

Here's a thought -- sometimes when figures are counterintuitive, it means they're wrong. And I have a hard time believing these figures, precisely because of online reading. I know that sites like Pedestal and Cortland Review and Poetry Daily and Verse Daily get a lot more hits per day than any print literary review ever has. Why are these not showing up on the NEA's survey? I don't know. I don't create surveys. I know that when Laurie Ylvisaker ran the Woodstock Poetry Festival for three years in the early 2000s, it was one of the town's best tourist attractions. Woodstock filled up, all the major events (Billy Collins, Stephen Dunn, Philip Levine, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, etc.) sold out, and the smaller events did well too.

The article ends by quoting Donald Hall, whose book of elegies for his late wife Jane Kenyon made best-seller lists in 1999 (as did Ted Hughes' Birthday Letters in 2002):

"I'm 80 years old," he says. "[For] 60 years I've been reading about poetry losing its audience."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Opus 40 in AALS Newsletter

What kind of inspiration can Opus 40 be to law professors? Louis J. Sirico writes about it in the newsletter of Association of American Law Schools -- a lovely appreciation, worth the reading.

The story of Opus 40 is a metaphor for what we do as
law professors. Just as Harvey Fite used his hands to build
his amazing sculpture rock-by-rock, we work day-by-day,
paper-by-paper, class-by-class, and student-by-student to
shape our legacy—capable, ethical lawyers and a forwardlooking
profession. Although we sometimes forget our
ultimate goals, the days when we remember them are often
good days.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Salt River Review

Salt River Review, a first-rate Internet literary journal which has honored me with inclusion a few times, is up with its spring issue, which I'm not featured in, but a lot of excellent poets are, including Laura Jensen. Check it out.

Friday, March 06, 2009

You'll laugh!
You'll cry!

And after that, if you have nothing better to do,
you'll head for the Wednesday Night Poetry Series
at Molten Java Coffee Roasters,
Greenwood Ave., Bethel CT

featured poet
Tad Richards

"The Tom Waits of contemporary poetry" -- Nancy Willard

7:30 PM -- open mike followed by feature reading
for more info check the Wednesday Poetry Series website

Thursday, March 05, 2009

10 lines that stay with me across time

From David Graham -- 10 lines from poems or songs that stay with me across time.

I had to do two lists, because there are too many songs in my head crowding out almost everything else.

So I'll start with the poems.

Men at forty
learn to close slowly
the doors to rooms they
will not be coming back to.
-- Donald Justice

A terrible beauty is born.
-- W. B. Yeats

[Time] will pardon Paul Claudel
Pardon him for writing well.
-- W. H. Auden

She dwells with beauty, beauty that must die
-- John Keats

as if words were the burden
he’d been bearing, all his life.
-- Donald Finkel

Now you invent the boat of your flesh
-- Mark Strand

'Don't, don't, don't, don't,' she cried.
-- Robert Frost

Owls were bearing the farm away.
-- Dylan Thomas

Goodnight to the old lady whispering "hush."
-- Margaret Wise Brown

Sometimes a man stands up during supper
and walks outdoors, and keeps on walking,
because of a church that stands somewhere in the East.

-- Rainer Maria Rilke

and ten lines from songs

Open up honey, it's your lover boy, me, that's knockin!
--Jerry Lee Lewis

She was with Big Jim, but she was leaning toward the Jack of Hearts.
-- Bob Dylan

Forever for Jennifer Johnson and me.
--Fred Koller

Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
-- Lennon - McCartney

Old trees just grow stronger,
And old rivers grow wilder ev'ry day.
--John Prine

Yes, it's me, and I'm in love again.
--Fats Domino

He saw Aunt Mary coming and he ducked back in the alley.
--Little Richard

I believe a change is gonna come.
--Sam Cooke

Never hit seventeen when you play against the dealer.
--Ian Tyson

If dogs run free, why not me?
--Bob Dylan

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Opus 40 in Geology News

Geology News, an informative online geology blog, now has an Opus 40 link (linking to the excellent Hope Farms Opus 40 page).

A couple of Goodreads reviews

Beatlesongs Beatlesongs by William J. Dowlding

My review

rating: 1 of 5 stars
How do books like this get published? It's a clip job, no new material, no original research, and not even a very good clip job.

Jazz in the Movies (A Da Capo paperback) Jazz in the Movies by David Meeker

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Now, this is some nice research -- if it's not every movie, video or DVD with jazz in it, including a description of the scenes with jazz, the players, the players playing for actors, then it's damn close. It's from da Capo, which never fails to publish the best books on music. The Beatle book was put out by Fireside, which once published my country music book that I put real work into.

View all my reviews.

Jazz on Film: The Complete Story of the Musicians and Music Onscreen Jazz on Film: The Complete Story of the Musicians and Music Onscreen by Scott Yanow

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'm sure the da Capo book is excellent, because it's from da Capo, but this is the one I actually read. So see my other review.

View all my reviews.