National Poetry Month 2010

In a tradition within a tradition, OFF THE PAGE offers an April program in observance of National Poetry Month.  Previous presentations have brought together some of the outstanding poets living and writing in our region and invited listeners to send in poems they've written.  Last year at this time we received a veritable anthology of poems, which you can still read here.  The invitation is out again, and if you've got a poem you'd like to share, please send it to OffThePage@WSKG.ORG.  The poem should be written in the body of the e-mail and not as an attachment (our Information Technology people warn we must be protected from viral verse).  Poems that can be read aloud in no more than a minute or two work best on the best on radio.  Even those we don't have time to read on the air may be posted here on the WSKG website.

In the WSKG studios to read their own poems and share the poems and comments of listeners will be three fine published poets.  (The practitioners of the "sullen art" of poetry seem to turn up in two categorites, poets and "published poets" -- though those not yet published have reason to be even more sullen).  Our guests will be:

Ben Howard, professor emeritus of English at Alfred University, where he also teaches classical guitar.  His work has been published in Leaf, Sunlight, Asphalt (2009), Dark Pool (2004) and the verse novella Midcentury (1997).  Dr. Howard has written extensively on Zen Buddhism and on Irish literature; his essays on modern Irish writing were collected in "The Pressed Melodeon".

I hear them in the morning and the evening,
as though they signified familiar rooms
in musty public buildings: Bath, Corning,
Binghamton, Elmira.  Foreign names
at first, they've lost their colours.  Twenty years
of hearing them have made their flavours dull,
their structures no more striking than the spires
of friendly churches, charitable and local.
But will there come a time when I endow
those common places with the same affection
as now I sometimes feel when Iowa
comes up in revery or conversation
or makes its way, as patiently as bees,
into the papers or the evening news?

Juliana Gray is an assistant professor of English at Alfred.  A native of Alabama, she also teaches poetry at the Sewanee Young Writers Conference and is recipient of the Bea Gonzalez Prize from the upstate New York literary journal Stone Canoe.  Her recent work includes the chapbook "History in Bones" (2001) and "The Man Under My Skin" (2005).

Mourning Dove

I won't.  You're far too obvious.
It's not my fault -- it's nature, the cat's
urge to hunt, your carelesness
beneath the feeder's fallen seed.
That's what brought you here like this,
a broken-necked bequest at my door.
I will not think about you now.
Go back to sleep.  I'm turning the lock.

Charles James is from Elmira.  His poems have been published in nine chapbooks and in the book of selected poems called "Life Lines" (2009).  He is one of the organizers of the Fine Arts Forum at Mansfield University.  His visit to OFF THE PAGE comes shortly (very shortly) after returning from a month in China.

Once Upon a Time

I watched Ms. Wonderful
fix her hair
slowly open her red car door
lower first her left leg then right
to the pavement
rise splendidly and
with a dancer's turn
close her red door
Oh exquisite grace
With measured timing
I charted my course
to greet her
when this little finger tapped my shoulder
"Charlie, that hill behind you
she won't even see you"

Juliana Gray, Ben Howard and Charles James join Bill Jaker to read their poems and share those sent in by members of the audience.  To ask a question or make a comment call us at 888/359-9754.  Poems can be sent to OffThePage@WSKG.ORG.

Juliana Gray
Ben Howard
Charles James