Virtual ‘Voices Of Poetry’ Features Former Poet Laureate

By: Jennifer Sexton-Riley

Topics: Arts

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky.  COURTESY PHOTO

“Poetry’s medium is not merely light as air, it is air: vital and deep as ordinary breath.”
– Robert Pinsky 

We could all use more poetry and music in our lives during these strange days, and this week we’re in for a memorable treat. On Thursday, July 23 at 7 p.m. Cape Cod Theatre Company/Harwich Junior Theatre will sponsor the Voices of Poetry, hosted by VOP Founder/Director and host of Poet's Corner on radio’s WOMR Neil Silberblatt. The evening of poetry and music will feature four poets including former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky along with Andrea Cohen, Charles Harper, Krysten Hill and Gail Mazur. Musician Bruce Abbott will perform solo and with friends. This event will be a live streamed, shared experience on CCTC’s website, capecodtheatrecompany.org, and on its Facebook page, facebook.com/jester51.“Poetry has the ability to enlighten us and inspire action,” said CCTC/HJT producing artistic director Nina Schuessler. “We will have the chance to hear the beauty of language as we learn the layered observations and deep emotions of our wonderful featured poets. It can to take us out of feelings of isolation, change how we view the world and heal our hearts.”

The Voices of Poetry event was created by Pushcart Prize-nominated poet and poetry activist Silberblatt in 2012. VOP has presented a series of more than 400 poetry events in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts featuring Poets Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winners/nominees, as well as new and emerging, sometimes as-yet-unpublished, poets.

“Having read, studied and written a fair share of poetry over the past many years — and having organized more than 400 poetry readings — I firmly believe that there is an aching need for poetry, just as there is for music and nature,” Silberblatt said. “Imagine reading an essay or blog or newspaper article to a baby.  None of those could displace a nursery rhyme.  Likewise, when one worships the god of their choice, you offer up prayers and psalms, all of which are essentially poems.  And, love songs are still poems set to music. When people tell me that they're not ‘really into’ or do not ‘really get’ contemporary poetry, I cite these examples.  I am glad to say I have made some converts, and I'm always looking for more.”

Pinsky was named U.S. Poet Laureate and Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1997. He made history when he became the first and so far only poet to remain in that distinguished position for an unprecedented three terms. Pinsky’s work as poet, essayist, translator, teacher, and speaker have earned numerous awards, and in founding his Favorite Poem Project, he has brought poetry into the lives of thousands of Americans of every background, age and walk of life. Pinsky is a professor of English and creative writing in the graduate writing program at Boston University, where in 2015 he was named a William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor, the highest honor bestowed on senior faculty members who are actively involved in teaching, research, scholarship, and university civic life. Pinsky’s anthology, “The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems” 1966-1996, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. His many books include the poetry collections “At the Foundling Hospital,” “Selected Poems,” “Gulf Music,” and “Jersey Rain,” essays “Singing School: Learning to Read (and Write) Poetry by Studying with the Masters,” and a translation of Dante's Inferno, which received the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Howard Morton Landon Prize for translation. Pinsky is also co-translator of “The Separate Notebooks,” poems by Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz. Pinsky’s prose book, “The Life of David,” is a retelling of the stories of King David.

Pinsky will be joined by poet Andrea Cohen, director of the Blacksmith House Poetry Series in Cambridge. Cohen has written six poetry collections: “Nightshade,” “Unfathoming,” “Furs Not Mine,” “Kentucky Derby,” “Long Division,” and “The Cartographer's Vacation.” A new collection, “Everything,” will be out in 2021. Cohen’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Threepenny Review and elsewhere. 

Poet Charles Harper is the author of three poetry books: “Sorting Things Out” (2008), “Making a Life” (2010) and “Gratitude” (2012). He is a regular participant in Poetry, Art of the Word, which meets monthly in Plymouth, where he also leads poetry appreciation workshops at the public library. Harper’s poetry has appeared in The Aurorean, Avocet, The Lyric, Mobius, The Deronda Review, among others.

Poet Krysten Hill is an educator, writer, and performer who has showcased her poetry at The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Massachusetts Poetry Festival, and Blacksmith House in Cambridge, among many other venues. She received her MFA in poetry from UMass Boston, where she currently teaches. Her work can be found in apt, Word Riot, The Baltimore Review, Muzzle, PANK, Winter Tangerine Review, Take Magazine, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the 2016 St. Botolph Foundation’s Emerging Artist Award. Her chapbook, “How Her Spirit Got Out,” received the 2017 Jean Pedrick Chapbook Prize.

Poet Gail Mazur is visiting professor in Boston University’s graduate creative writing program and founding director of the Blacksmith House Poetry Series, a weekly poetry reading series she ran for 29 years.  She was a 2009-2010 Fellow in Poetry at the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Studies, a 1996 Fellow at the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College, and the 2005 recipient of the St. Botolph Club Foundation’s Distinguished Artist Award. Mazur is an advisory editor to Provincetown Arts and the literary journals Agni and Ploughshares.  Her book “Zeppo’s First Wife: New and Selected Poems,” won the 2006 Massachusetts Book Award and was a finalist for the 2005 Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize. Her other books include “Forbidden City,” “Figures in a Landscape,” and “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” a finalist for the National Book Award.  Her latest collection, “Land's End: New and Selected Poems,” is forthcoming this August from University of Chicago Press.

Sax/reed player Bruce Abbott taught at Salve Regina University for five years before accepting a job at Nauset High School in Eastham, where he taught for 10 years. Today, Abbott dedicates his time to performing, composing and arranging. He is also a member of the Cape Cod Jazz Quintet, which has performed at the Provincetown Jazz Festival.

Visit capecodtheatrecompany.org or facebook.com/jester51 at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 23 to attend this streamed Voices of Poetry event. The evening is free, although a donation of $15 per person is suggested.

Poetry’s medium is not merely light as air, it is air: vital and deep as ordinary breath.”

Robert Pinsky

We could all use more poetry and music in our lives during these strange days, and this week we’re in for a memorable treat. On Thursday, July 23 at 7 p.m. Cape Cod Theatre Company/Harwich Junior Theatre will sponsor the Voices of Poetry, hosted by VOP Founder/Director and host of Poet's Corner on radio’s WOMR Neil Silberblatt. The evening of poetry and music will feature four poets including former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky along with
Andrea Cohen, Charles Harper, Krysten Hill and Gail Mazur. Musician Bruce Abbott will perform solo and with friends. This event will be a live streamed, shared experience on CCTC’s website, capecodtheatrecompany.org, and on its Facebook page, facebook.com/jester51. “Poetry has the ability to enlighten us and inspire action,” said CCTC/HJT producing artistic director Nina Schuessler. “We will have the chance to hear the beauty of language as we learn the layered observations and deep emotions of our wonderful featured poets. It can to take us out of feelings of isolation, change how we view the world and heal our hearts.”
The Voices of Poetry event was created by Pushcart Prize-nominated poet and poetry activist Silberblatt in 2012. VOP has presented a series of more than 400 poetry events in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts featuring Poets Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winners/nominees, as well as new and emerging, sometimes as-yet-unpublished, poets.
Having read, studied and written a fair share of poetry over the past many years — and having organized more than 400 poetry readings — I firmly believe that there is an aching need for poetry, just as there is for music and nature,” Silberblatt said. “Imagine reading an essay or blog or newspaper article to a baby.  None of those could displace a nursery rhyme.  Likewise, when one worships the god of their choice, you offer up prayers and psalms, all of which are essentially poems.  And, love songs are still poems set to music. When people tell me that they're not ‘really into’ or do not ‘really get’ contemporary poetry, I cite these examples.  I am glad to say I have made some converts, and I'm always looking for more.”
Pinsky was named U.S. Poet Laureate and Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1997. He made history when he became the first and so far only poet to remain in that distinguished position for an unprecedented three terms. Pinsky’s work as poet, essayist, translator, teacher, and speaker have earned numerous awards, and in founding his Favorite Poem Project, he has brought poetry into the lives of thousands of Americans of every background, age and walk of life. Pinsky is a professor of English and creative writing in the graduate writing program at Boston University, where in 2015 he was named a William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor, the highest honor bestowed on senior faculty members who are actively involved in teaching, research, scholarship, and university civic life. Pinsky’s anthology, “
The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems” 1966-1996, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. His many books include the poetry collections “At the Foundling Hospital,”Selected Poems,” Gulf Music,” and “Jersey Rain,” essays “Singing School: Learning to Read (and Write) Poetry by Studying with the Masters,” and a translation of Dante's Inferno, which received the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Howard Morton Landon Prize for translation. Pinsky is also co-translator of “The Separate Notebooks,” poems by Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz. Pinsky’s prose book, “The Life of David,” is a retelling of the stories of King David.
Pinsky will be joined by poet Andrea Cohen,
director of the Blacksmith House Poetry Series in Cambridge. Cohen has written six poetry collections: “Nightshade,”Unfathoming,” Furs Not Mine,”Kentucky Derby,” Long Division,” and “The Cartographer's Vacation.” A new collection, “Everything,” will be out in 2021. Cohen’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Threepenny Review and elsewhere. 
Poet
Charles Harper is the author of three poetry books: “Sorting Things Out” (2008), “Making a Life” (2010) and “Gratitude” (2012). He is a regular participant in Poetry, Art of the Word, which meets monthly in Plymouth, where he also leads poetry appreciation workshops at the public library. Harper’s poetry has appeared in The Aurorean, Avocet, The Lyric, Mobius, The Deronda Review, among others.
Poet
Krysten Hill is an educator, writer, and performer who has showcased her poetry at The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Massachusetts Poetry Festival, and Blacksmith House in Cambridge, among many other venues. She received her MFA in poetry from UMass Boston, where she currently teaches. Her work can be found in apt, Word Riot, The Baltimore Review, Muzzle, PANK, Winter Tangerine Review, Take Magazine, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the 2016 St. Botolph Foundation’s Emerging Artist Award. Her chapbook, “How Her Spirit Got Out,” received the 2017 Jean Pedrick Chapbook Prize.

Poet Gail Mazur is visiting professor in Boston University’s graduate creative writing program and founding director of the Blacksmith House Poetry Series, a weekly poetry reading series she ran for 29 years.  She was a 2009-2010 Fellow in Poetry at the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Studies, a 1996 Fellow at the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College, and the 2005 recipient of the St. Botolph Club Foundation’s Distinguished Artist Award. Mazur is an advisory editor to Provincetown Arts and the literary journals Agni and Ploughshares.  Her book “Zeppo’s First Wife: New and Selected Poems,” won the 2006 Massachusetts Book Award and was a finalist for the 2005 Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize. Her other books include “Forbidden City,” “Figures in a Landscape,” and “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” a finalist for the National Book Award.  Her latest collection, “Land's End: New and Selected Poems,” is forthcoming this August from University of Chicago Press.
Sax/reed player
Bruce Abbott taught at Salve Regina University for five years before accepting a job at Nauset High School in Eastham, where he taught for 10 years. Today, Abbott dedicates his time to performing, composing and arranging. He is also a member of the Cape Cod Jazz Quintet, which has performed at the Provincetown Jazz Festival.
Visit
capecodtheatrecompany.org or facebook.com/jester51 at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 23 to attend this streamed Voices of Poetry event. The evening is free, although a donation of $15 per person is suggested.