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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Creative Joy / West Chester

Poet Jennifer Reeser and West Chester Poetry Conference
Director Kim Bridgford at a 90th birthday party for Richard Wilbur.
As he told me that his birthday was March 1, I hope he has had a long
Mad Hatter's tea party sort of celebration.  June 10, 2011, West Chester.

How does poetry delight us? To begin with the most inclusive reason, poetry delights us as a manifestation of energy. A poem is an act, and should give us the certainty, the reflected pleasure, that comes from participating in a successful accomplishment.  --Donald A. Stauffer, The Golden Nightingale, 1949

Several attendees wishing for a signature from Richard Wilbur.
Poet Rhina Espaillat at left.  June 10, 2011.

If you would like to see me with a brilliantly lit nose (stage lights, not alcohol) and hear me read some poems, you may wander over to youtube, where poet Annabelle Moseley has posted videos of the Mezzo Cammin 5th anniversary reading:  Kim Bridgford and moderator, Rhina Espaillat, Julie Kane, Leslie Monsour, Annabelle herself, and me. A video of the conversation at the close is also up. Individual readings by each of the participants have been posted as well. 

Three poets at a birthday party:
Jennifer Reeser, Kim Bridgford, and me.

The final joy of the artist is creation, and the greatness of his creation will depend upon the completeness with which he embraces and accepts all materials.  --Donald A. Stauffer, The Golden Nightingale, 1949

The laughers are poets Leslie Monsour and David Mason.
You can catch the birthday boy at right, next to Rhina Espaillat.

There is in the creative joy an acceptance of what life brings, because we have understood the beauty of what it brings, or a hatred of death for what it takes away, which arouses within us, through some sympathy perhaps with other men, an energy so noble, so powerful, that we laugh aloud and mock, in the terror or the sweetness of our exaltation, at death and oblivion.  --W. B. Yeats, The Trembling of the Veil, 1922.


  1. Marly,
    How wonderful that you were able to attend Richard Wilbur's 90th b-day, and to read there. I thought your reading was delightful. However tiresome you might find traveling around and doing these readings, reading does great credit to your poems, particularly the rhymed ones, where the places (and ways) you do NOT rhyme are even more intriguing than those you do.

  2. Readings are fun; getting there can, yes, be tiresome!

    It was lucky to be there the day the birthday was celebrated--wine and edibles out in the grass with the gnats!

    I probably have more blank verse at this point than rhyming poems... I really like the swing of both, though.

  3. Amazingly young looking 90 year old, writing poetry must be the secret to a long life?! Sounds like a fun time. Enjoyed your reading, and the quotes here are great for all creatives.

  4. Ha, at first I thought maybe you were reporting on somewhere more local (to me!). Strange to think there is another Chester in the world (actually, I suspect there's probably several).

    Great set of quotes, here - quite encouraging...(I am taking them to include all sorts of creative writing).

  5. marja-leena,

    We can hope that it is art, the inner fountain!

    I really like this small, old book. It is full of wonderful remarks about poetry, and I do think that true things about one art have resonance for another.

  6. Clare,

    When I was looking online for a place to stay (I waited a bit late and so didn't have a lot of choice), I had to make sure I did not get Westchester, New York or Chester, Pennsylvania but landed in the right West Chester. I'm sure there are many more Chester-towns of various sorts in the U. S.

    Maybe I'll post some more Stauffer bits later. I think him quite sound and sometimes lyrical in a way that is no longer seen in criticism. He is looking at Yeats, but he is considering the great questions about what poetry should be and how and why it succeeds, etc.

  7. Hmm....
    I wonder what YOU think poetry should be, and how and why it succeeds! What a fascinating blog posting that would be - if you have not done this already.
    I have my own ideas, but they have as much to do with what words cannot do, as what they can!

  8. Paul,
    Half of art is wrestling with the resistance of the medium.

  9. Paul,

    I probably have said quite a bit about it, here and there. And then when I was doing aphorisms, I did a poetry patch...

    But no doubt I will have more to say, though I think in the end it hardly matters what poets and writers say about their art. All that matters is in the work itself, which often says something more interesting than what the writer had to say about it.

  10. Robbi,

    I have no doubt Paul would or will agree with you, given what he has to say about composing music...

  11. Indeed I am almost certain I would find myself in much agreement with Robbi.
    "The resistance of the medium" is an expression I shall now use most happily!

  12. No doubt it will sound quite fine with a British accent...


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.