I’ve been updating my Events page with more and more upcoming poetry readings and what not. One of the most exciting is rather poetic. Next Saturday, January 27th, I’ll be reading in my old hometown. Just weeks after starting a new job as a library director, I’ll have the honor of going back to my very first library, the one I used to hide in when I was a kid, the one where I taught myself how to use the old card catalog. And there I’ll be giving my first public reading from Moons, Roads, and Rivers, my debut poetry chapbook from Finishing Line Press. I’m so excited!
It’s miles away for most of you, thousands of miles for some, but if you can be in central Pennsylvania next weekend, I’d love to meet up with you at the Ross Library, 232 West Main Street in the riverside town of Lock Haven, Pennsylvania at 2:00 pm. Just between you and me, I confess to feeling tremendously tickled to see my name in the old county libraries’ upcoming events list. I’ll have books with me for sale, of course. Or if you’ve already pre-ordered one, just bring it along and I’ll gratefully sign it!
(The above snowy image is from the Ross Library website)
Finally, my author copies of Moons, Roads, and Rivers have arrived! The press was running behind, and the holidays slowed things down even more, but here the little lovelies are and I’m very happy with them.
Since my batch came straight from the printer, the preorder copies will be a few days yet before they arrive at your doors. Thank you! If you haven’t ordered yet, you can by visiting Finishing Line Press’s site, or by contacting your favorite, hopefully, indie bookstore.
I say all of this because several people have contacted me saying that they are worried that their order got lost. Probably not. Just a very overwhelmed press with a release time too close to the holidays. From what they are saying, it might be until the 16th before some of you have your copies. I am so very sorry about that.
If you are new here and haven’t been subject to my incessant self-promotion, Moons, Roads, and Rivers is my first chapbook. It’s a collection of both old and newer poems. Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time on the road and a fair amount of time on, in, or by the river. I grew up along the West Branch of the Susquehanna and now live on the far North Branch. In between, I lived where the two branches meet. But the poems also recall college days in the flatlands of Indiana as well as the wooded hills of central Pennsylvania.
I was divorced from my sons’ mother for most of their lives, so I’ve racked up a lot of driving poems, and since much of that driving was at night, the moon showed up frequently in those pieces. It seemed like a good idea to combine these works and see how they might come together in a small collection, and I think I’m very happy with the result.
Mostly, I think these are mood and memory pieces. From childhood to fatherhood, it’s the feelings evoked by those travels, those surroundings that permeate these poems, more than any particular “message.”
I hope you enjoy them and order a copy of the chapbook for yourself. I’ll be sharing some information about upcoming readings (You can also check my Events page) and, of course, as is my habit, I’ll be recording a few on SoundCloud and Youtube soon!
These are the last poems from Word Fountain’s recent print issue to be added to their webpage. It was an honor to record Janet Locke’s poem, “Attention,” especially since she told us, after it went to print, that the friend she speaks of in the poem was my beloved Shakespeare professor Doctor Ervene Gulley. I had no idea that impeccably prepared and seemingly perfect woman had a reputation among friends for being late.
This seems a good time to bow in appreciation for the mentors and teachers we have lost. Please follow the link below to hear the reading.
Happy 2018 to you. May your year be full of serendipitous discoveries.
Please take a moment to relax, close your eyes, and listen to a reading of a fine poem. Okay, you don’t have to close your eyes.
A Barred Owl
By Richard Wilbur
The warping night air having brought the boom
Of an owl’s voice into her darkened room,
We tell the wakened child that all she heard
Was an odd question from a forest bird,
Asking of us, if rightly listened to,
“Who cooks for you?” and then “Who cooks for you?”
Words, which can make our terrors bravely clear,
Can also thus domesticate a fear,
And send a small child back to sleep at night
Not listening for the sound of stealthy flight
Or dreaming of some small thing in a claw
Borne up to some dark branch and eaten raw.
There are so many updates to do. My recent reading in New York City, camping, and hawk watching with my boys—heck I haven’t even told you yet about the poetry conference in Paterson, NJ this summer!
But we’ll get to all of that. At least you know there are things to say, and I know there is more to come. Meanwhile, my youngest son is back at his recording gig, reading poems out loud more frequently than I have been doing lately. In fact, in this post, he has a recording of himself as well as a recording of a young lady at Poetry Out Loud competition reading this particular poem.
I think they are both fine interpretations. I’ve heard others that were too dramatic. Yes, there is such a thing as too dramatic in poetry readings. Generally, I find it best to strike a more even tone. Not monotone by any means. But if you add too many sighs and lilts of voice, too much of anything that isn’t clearly already on the page, you risk limiting the dynamic range of what was written. I realize I am biased, but I think Micah’s reading here is a good example of the less-is-more principle. It expresses just enough emotion to show that it’s human language but allows the poem to do its work without getting in the way by over-presentation.