Monday 15 September 2008: The Poetry Issue
On 15 September, I featured the two most popular poets in America today: Coleman Barks and Billy Collins. I had hoped to talk with at least one of them but couldn't get in touch with them in time. I played recordings of them reading their poems instead; this is probably much more worthwhile than listening to me asking them questions.

Coleman Barks is the man who rescued the Persian Sufi poet Mawani Jalal ad-Din Rumi from the clutches of academic translators like A R Arberry, who were able to convey the literal meaning of his poems but almost completely missed his underlying energy. Starting in 1978, Barks' free but incisive translations have made Rumi the most popular poet in the US. Barks spoke last Saturday evening 13 September at the Veteran's Memorial Building in Grass Valley. I played a selection from his CD Pure Water, which contains material very similar to what he read here.

Billy Collins, who is by far the best-selling non-Rumi poet in America, has just published a new collection of poems called Ballistics (Random House). I played a selection from a reading he gave at Boston College on 28 April 2005, which contains a representative group of his poems, including one from his latest book.

Both Barks and Collins will read at this year's Geraldine R Dodge Poetry Festival, which takes place 25-28 September at Waterloo Village in Stanhope NJ. Nevada County poet Steve Sanfield will also read at the festival. He and fellow Nevada County poet Doc Dachtler will be guests on Booktown on Monday 13 October.

I finally mentioned this month's Nevada County Poetry Series reading. nila northSun and Terryl Wheat will present their work on Thursday 18 September at the Off-Center Stage behind the Center for the Arts in Grass Valley.

To hear this program, click here.

posted by Eric Tomb and others 8:04 PM

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