Two recent events have highlighted the fact that some of the best English-language poetry of the past 50 years has been written by poets who were also musicians. Selection of Bob Dylan to receive the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature took many people by surprise, and generated a lot of both criticism and praise in the literature world.
A writer for the New York Times Review of Books chose an excerpt from the song Mr. Tamborine Man to demonstrate Dylan’s poetic prowess:
Though you might hear laughing, spinning, swinging madly across the sun It’s not aimed at anyone It’s just escaping on the run And but for the sky there are no fences facing And if you hear vague traces of skipping reels of rhyme To your tambourine in time It’s just a ragged clown behind I wouldn’t pay it any mind It’s just a shadow you’re seeing that he’s chasing.
In 2008 he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation for his “profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical composition of extraordinary poetic power.”
The recent passing of Leonard Cohen affords an opportunity to pay tribute to another of the finest contemporary English-language poet-musicians. Though far less well-known than Dylan, Cohen’s writing made him a giant among his peers, many of whom covered Cohen songs over the years. Rolling Stone writes:
Cohen was the dark eminence among a small pantheon of extremely influential singer-songwriters to emerge in the Sixties and early Seventies. Only Bob Dylan exerted a more profound influence upon his generation, and perhaps only Paul Simon and fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell equaled him as a song poet.
Last week, we promised to try to atone for our sin of failing to record Debra Spencer’s wonderful reading at Bookshop Santa Cruz. Here’s a small gesture in that direction – a reprise of Debra’s Poetry Show guest appearance on December 1, 2013.
On that Sunday evening, Debra sat down to converse with host Dennis Morton and, of course, to read poetry from her new book.
At that time, she was about two weeks away from publication of her first poetry collection, titled Gleams When Wet, from our local Hummingbird Press.
Poetry Santa Cruz sponsored the 8th annual Maude Meehan Memorial reading, held at Bookshop Santa Cruz, on Tuesday, October 18. The two guest readers this year were fine local poets Maria Garcia Teutsch and Debra Spencer. Readings were, as customary, followed by a Q&A session, and some get-acquainted time.
The podcast accompanying this post is not, unfortunately, complete. The infamous “technical difficulties” reared their ugly heads, cutting off the recording after only two of Maria’s poems. We apologize to both poets and to our podcast audience.
To partly compensate, we’ll soon post past Poetry Show archive recordings featuring both Maria and Debra Spencer. Stay tuned…
As promised, here’s the podcast of the entire Voices of the River event, nearly two hours. Those of you who were there will notice an extra song in this recording. Robert wanted it to be played at the event, but we couldn’t come up with a portable CD player to plug into the sound system (!?). Anyway, we decided to “fix it in the mix” by inserting the song Gloria after Robert’s reading of his wonderful poem Love Has Made Grief Absurd.
Join Poetry Santa Cruz and The Poetry Show next Saturday, September 24, as we welcome Robert Sward as our new Poet Laureate. It will be a local-star-studded event, as can be seen from the lineup at right.
David Swanger and Robert Sward were both guests on a 2015 show, but today’s podcast is an earlier solo appearance by David, back 2013. Among other subjects of his conversation with host Dennis Morton, David discusses what it’s like to be Poet Laureate of Santa Cruz County. He was himself nearing the end of his term as County Poet Laureate at that time, and had some interesting first-hand experiences to relate.
The Poetry Santa Cruz website, lovingly maintained by Len Anderson, is an indispensible resource for keeping up with poetry happenings in Santa Cruz and surrounding areas. Most of us check the Events page regularly, but scroll down farther to find the section, “Breaking into Print: Poetry Books by Local Authors“.
That list is constantly updated, with most recent new books at the top, and is headed for the moment by Boys In the Woods, a new multi-media work by Marc Zegans. Published this spring by Crane Maiden Books, the book features:
“Stellar photography by Daniel Barnhill and musical component written & performed by Peg Simone with original lyrics by Marc Zegans.”
Marc was a guest on the KUSP Poetry Show three times in 2015, and we hope to to have him back again soon to discuss this latest work, and to learn more about his innovative multi-media style.
For now, we’ll reprise the podcast from September 20, 2015. In that visit, Marc and host Dennis Morton discussed what was then his newest book, The Underwater Typewriter. Here’s a partial screen grab of that blog post:
Even though we’ve been expecting it, the end of KUSP-FM was a punch in the gut for us at The Poetry Show. There will be a period of mourning among longtime KUSP veterans. An excerpt from the press release can be found at the bottom of this post.
Having said that, there’s no way to go but forward. We’re committed to continuing The Poetry Show here, with new guests and recorded local readings. We have our podcast archive going back to May, 2007, which will soon be accessible here (no podcast re-post this week).
The KUSP website is now shut down, as well, so there’s an update to this website: the indispensable Internet Archive “Wayback Machine” has a number of “snapshot” copies of the KUSP website, so the link at the top of this page labeled “KUSP’s Poetry Show (archived)” will take you to the KUSP blog pages archived on that site. Be aware that, because of the way the archiving process works, it’s not as easy to search for a particular blog post and/or podcast.
KUSP 88.9fm | KUSP.ORG STOPS BROADCASTING AFTER NEARLY 45 YEARS Local Independent Public Radio Station Contemplates Options
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – July 31, 2016 – Local independent public radio station KUSP 88.9fm | kusp.org will sign off at midnight tonight, ending nearly 45 years of distinguished on-air public service in the greater Monterey Bay Area and more than 20 years online.
The move is in response to the station’s current financial situation: monthly expenses exceed monthly revenues and the Board has been unable to secure bridge funds necessary to support a new music discovery format as KUSP transitions away from being a National Public Radio (NPR) member station.
“This decision reflects the reality of the station’s financial situation; we simply cannot afford to broadcast any longer,” said Board President Matt Farrell. The Board will continue to search for a buyer and is evaluating remaining options in light of financial issues facing the station.
One of our favorite Monterey Bay area poets, Lisa Allen Ortiz, has a new poetry collection, titled Guide to the Exhibit. The book is the 2016 winner of the Perugia Press Prize, so congratulations to Lisa!
Until our next opportunity to talk to Lisa in person, we’re re-posting the podcast from her last guest appearance on The Poetry Show. To use the links, go to the original post at KUSP (yes, it’s still there – don’t give up). Here’s a picture of the blog post: