Archive for the ‘United States Poet Laureate’ Tag

Philip Levine — The Voice Of The Voiceless And That’s The Simple Truth   2 comments

WIPPhotosScanned36 Phillip Levain blog art frameSimple TruthPhilip Levine — Image by kenne

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Writers In Performance Series, Mid-1990’s — Images by Nancy Parsons

Voice of the Voiceless

Life,
life is simple,
we make it complicated —
that’s the simple truth.


Today,
I found myself reading
the poems of Philip Levine —
blessed with the gifts
of listening and observing;
enabling him to care,
he has called the
“voice of the voiceless”.

Above all,
Levine is a story-teller
of people decaying
in the spoils of the rich,
speaking directly
from the front lines,
bearing witness to
worker 
revolutions, faded.

By writing about work,
Levine writes about life.
Waiting,
waiting in the work line.
Waiting,
waiting in the assembly line.
Waiting,
waiting for the next task —
not changed from the last.

I, too,
worked an assembly line.
I, too,
bless the imagination
that have given me
myths I live by —
images created by
my visionary power
to bear witness.

I, too,
sing America —
that’s the simple truth.

— kenne

p. s. The other day I was listening to NPR when I heard that Philip Levine added another award to the many this great American poet has received, the American Academy of Poets life-time achievement award (Wallace Stevens Award). Levine, the 2011 U.S. poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner for his book, “The Simple Truth” is one of my favorite living poets. It was not long after this book’s publication that we were honored to have Levine read at Long Star College – Montgomery, Writers In Performance Series.

Philip-Levine1

Laureate Philip Levine, Working Class Poet
by Robin Bates

An Abandoned Factory, Detroit

by Philip Levine

The gates are chained, the barbed-wire fencing stands,
An iron authority against the snow,
And this grey monument to common sense
Resists the weather. Fears of idle hands,
Of protest, men in league, and of the slow
Corrosion of their minds, still charge this fence.

Beyond, through broken windows one can see
Where the great presses paused between their strokes
And thus remain, in air suspended, caught
In the sure margin of eternity.
The cast-iron wheels have stopped; one counts the spokes
Which movement blurred, the struts inertia fought,

And estimates the loss of human power,
Experienced and slow, the loss of years,
The gradual decay of dignity.
Men lived within these foundries, hour by hour;
Nothing they forged outlived the rusted gears
Which might have served to grind their eulogy.

 

“Beat Poets, not beat poets”   1 comment

Visitors to this blog site know that I often use the title-lead, “Capturing the Moment.” I also use the title-lead, “Capturing the Word,” but have been neglectful in using this lead-in of late. Last July 9th, I posted, “Capturing the Word — Robert Hass.” For the most part, the “Capture the Word” series was my way of featuring writers that had presented at the “Writers In Performance” series, at Lone Star College – Montgomery, over the years. The series, started by my friend Dave Parsons (Texas State Poet Laureate, 2011) and under the guidance of the Montgomery County Literary Arts Council (MCLAC), has attracted many outstanding writers, including Poet Laureate of the United States, Robert Hass and his wife, Brenda Hillman. They appeared in the early day’s of the series, March 10, 1996, which was only three years after the series began. (The series is still going strong, with the next event being the 19th Annual Emily Dickinson Birthday Celebration with Nationally acclaimed Dickinson scholar, author and educator, Brenda Wineapple, who will discuss her book, White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson — and as always the “Gathering of Poets” at Conroe’s Corner Pub.)

Robert Hass is one of contemporary poetry’s most celebrated and widely read voices, so I was surprised to read of his being clubbed recently during an Occupy Wall Street protest in Berkley, California. Hass and his wife had gone on campus to see what was happening and how the police and students were behaving. “If there was trouble, we wanted to do what we could to protect the students,” Hass wrote in today’s New York Times — “Poet-Bashing Police.” Trying to protect Brenda, after a cop shoved her to the ground, Hass was clubbed. Click here to read the opinion piece.

“There are moments when the body is as numinous
as words, days that are the good flesh continuing.
Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,
saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.”

— from MEDITATIONS AT LAGUNITAS by Robert Hass

kenne

Montgomery County Literary Arts Council (MCLAC), 1996 post-card flyer — Scanned Image

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