Pin It

"Places in Our Poems" at the Woodstock Writers Festival 

Three Local Poets Discuss Crows and Foxes

click to enlarge Sophie Strand
  • Sophie Strand

This panel, on Saturday morning, April 9, consisted of three poets: Sophie Strand, Tamas Panitz and Robert Kelly. All three are associated with Bard College. Sophie is a senior there, Tamas graduated two years ago, Robert Kelly has been teaching at Bard for 45 years. The three poets began by giving readings: first Sophie, then Tamas, then Robert. Each has a different style, but all their poems share a certain elusiveness, and sincerity.

After reading, the poets discussed the importance of location in writing. All three live in the Hudson Valley: Tamas in Hudson, Sophie in Tivoli, Robert in Annandale-on-Hudson. (In one of his poems, Robert mentioned a pump, and afterwards I asked him: "Is that the pump that 'don't work cause the vandals took the handles'?" [from Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues"]. "Yes, it's right across from where I live," he replied, somewhat embarrassed.)

Sophie said that she begins each day with an early-morning walk, when she often encounters birds and animals. ("If I'm lucky, I'll see a red fox.") Her poetry is the process of "translating" those morning walks into words. Robert Kelly said that his poems are often instigated by the calls of crows. "If there were no crows, I'd have no poems."

Is this mysticism, or just the peculiar technology of poetry? Or both?

Near the end, an audience member asked: "How do you find an image that conveys the emotion you're looking for?"

Tamas replied: "Every image evokes an emotion; there's nothing you can do about it." Robert Kelly said: "'Image' is a strange word. It comes from the Latin imago. We are the image of God; that's what the Mosaic religions teach." Sophie said: "I try to create an image that is open enough for the reader to fill in."

After this discussion, everyone in the audience was uniformly elated. It felt like we were all levitating. I went to this panel instead of attending synagogue (as I often do on Saturday mornings) which was a good choice. Three poets equal one rabbi, almost exactly.

[All quotes are approximate.]

Speaking of...

  • The poetry panel at the Woodstock Writers Festival discussed the importance of geography in poems.

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Books: Holiday Gift Guide

    Deck the halls with homegrown books and go to author events at local bookstores. Signed books make great gift for all ages.
    • Dec 1, 2015
  • Wild At Heart: Ashley Mayne's Magic Circle

    Talk to Ashley Mayne for awhile, and you might feel a little bewitched. Her eyes are pale green and her gaze asymmetrical, so she seems to be simultaneously looking you right in the eye and focused on something beyond.
    • Oct 1, 2015

Hudson Valley Events

submit event
Close Look: Artist Meleko Mokgosi in Conversation @ The Williams College Museum of Art

Close Look: Artist Meleko Mokgosi in Conversation

Thu., April 27, 4 p.m. — Curator of Contemporary Art, Lisa Dorin and Artist Meleko Mokgosi discuss process...
Glass Bending Workshop with Suzanne McClelland and Dorie Guthrie @ The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

Glass Bending Workshop with Suzanne McClelland and Dorie Guthrie

Thu., April 27, 6-8 p.m. — Ages 14 and up (participants under 18 must be accompanied by an...

View all of today's events

Latest in Books & Authors

More by Sparrow

Hudson Valley Tweets