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Spirit & Place: Powered by Poetry

November 2, 2008 by Reader's Connection

The Spirit & Place festival will be with us in Indianapolis from November 1st through the 16th; and some programs will be presented at Central Library.

Powered by Poetry–Whirl of the Divine
Clowes Auditorium, Central Library
Thursday, November 6   7:00 p.m.
Sunday, November 9   2:00 p.m.

This program will feature readings from the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, Czeslaw Milosz and others. Norbert Krapf will be one of the presenters. The following booklist includes these authors and others who might set you whirling.

Reading Rilke

Reading Rilke: Reflections on the Problems of Translation, by William H. Gass is Gass’s translation of a number of Rilke’s poems, including the Duino Elegies. There is commentary on the poet’s life and work, and Gass compares his own efforts with translations that have preceded his. Stephen Mitchell and A. Poulin, Jr. come out of it pretty well.

The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Stephen Mitchell

Duino Elegies and the Sonnets to Orpheus, translated by A. Poulin, Jr.


The Kingdom of Ordinary Time

I was scanning the shelves for whirling poetry and The Kingdom of Ordinary Time, by Marie Howe caught my eye, because of Howe’s title and because of her daughter’s artwork on the cover. The poems are incredible. The immediacy and mordant humor of these poems, their refusal to deny the unbidden presence of the sacred in a life, maybe especially in a secular life–all of this and a pitch-perfect ear make these poems necessary, beautiful.–Patricia Hampl



Selected Poems, 1931-2004

Selected Poems, 1931-2004 by Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz

In addition to a collection of Milosz’s poems, you might be interested in his anthology, A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry.
A Book of Luminous Things





 The Rattle BagSpeaking of anthologies, I have a copy of The Rattle Bag, a collection edited by Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney, on the shelf at home. Every once in a while I take it down and read something. Not until I looked at our catalog record, yesterday, did I realize that it was geared toward children. There are two possibilities here: library catalogs all over the country are mistaken about this or, much more likely, I’ve slipped into a new childhood without knowing.




I believe that New Poems (1968-1970), by Pablo Neruda is out of print. So this yellowed copy is all we can provide. But I’m recommending it because I’m on a salvational mission. The translator, Ben Belitt, died in 2003; and he’d been condemned to hell decades earlier by fellow poet & translator Clayton Eshleman, who thought that Belitt had made Neruda’s poems seem too European. I’m trying to save Belitt in part because I don’t think that poets, whatever their feelings, should go around damning each other, even metaphorically; and in part because I bought a copy thirty years ago and am still grateful. Belitt’s versions took me somewhere, and it didn’t feel like Europe.

If you don’t want to read a yellowed book, the library has lots of other Neruda titles to check out. And yes, in his introduction to New Poems, Belitt is pretty rough on Robert Bly; so I guess what goes around comes around.


Bloodroot, by Norbert Krapf

Somewhere in Southern Indiana: Poems of Midwestern Origins, by Norbert Krapf

Norbert Krapf, Indiana’s Poet Laureate, will be the subject of another blog in the near future, anticipating some other readings that he’ll be giving. So I’ll just say in passing that his poems are wonderful.


Technicians of the Sacred: A Range of Poetries from Africa, America, Asia, Europe, and Oceania, edited by Jerome Rothenberg. I was dining with family a few years ago, and a sister suggested that we all name some books that had changed us–changed the way we saw things. This collection of “primitive” poetries was one of my picks.

You can’t request it at the moment, because the only copy in our catalog belongs to the Indianapolis Museum of Art. But IMCPL cardholders can request an Interlibrary Loan from another library system. And when editor Rothenberg appeared at the Butler Visiting Writers Series a couple of years ago, his wife proudly told me that Technicians of the Sacred hadn’t been out of print since it was first published in 1968. So maybe IMCPL can buy a new copy.


Zen Poems of China & Japan

Zen Poems of China & Japan: The Crane’s Bill, translated by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto
I haven’t quoted any poems, yet, but these Zen poems are all quite brief, so I’ll quote one and a half enlightenment poems. The authors are both Chinese. Choro (the first author) lived in the eleventh century, and Tosu in the twelfth.

With one foot on the brick step,
The All burst in my head.
I had a good laugh by
The box tree, moon in the bluest sky.

Forget everything–everything!
Now from the path the night bell
Tinkling . . .

 Hope to see you on the 6th or the 9th. 

A related program for young people, Powered by Poetry–One Wild and Precious Life will be presented in the Learning Curve Theater at Central.
Saturday, November 8   2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, November 9   3:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 15   1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, November 16   3:00 p.m.


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