Law and Conversation

April 17, 2012

Kate Sutherland on Adrienne Rich

Filed under: poetry,women — Helen Gunnarsson @ 12:01 am
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Such a pleasure to hear the CBC’s Michael Enright interviewing law professor Kate Sutherland–one of my absolute favorites on Twitter–on the work of feminist poet and essayist Adrienne Rich, who recently died at the age of 82. You can still listen to it, either on podcast or through the CBC’s website.

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May 23, 2011

Watch This: Lynda Barry on Poetry

Filed under: Books and writing,lawyers,poetry,storytelling — Helen Gunnarsson @ 5:37 pm
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Via Rachelle Cruz I found this inspiring video from the amazing and brilliant artist Lynda J. Barry on poetry.  In “The View From Here,” Barry sings Emily Dickinson to both Gershwin and Jobim, explains that haiku isn’t an exercise in 5-7-5 syllables, but a picture, and opines that poetry, like other arts, is alive and not only useful but essential.

I love Barry’s message. Today I had a great conversation with another lawyer who told me about how much music adds to his life. He’s one of a number of busy and successful lawyers I know who find time to play an instrument, paint a picture, or tell a story in poetry or prose and have a richer professional and personal life as a result. All of those creative pursuits are part of what makes us human.

Barry also says we can best understand poetry not by reading it, but by memorizing it, and that music can help. Her video from The Poetry Foundation is well worth eight minutes of your time.

I urged everyone a while ago to read some poetry every day. What are you reading, or playing, or writing that’s not for work today?

January 12, 2011

Poetry: Three to read

Filed under: Books and writing,poetry — Helen Gunnarsson @ 12:01 am
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Earlier this week I busted some hackneyed excuses for not reading and urged everyone to read a poem a day.  Turns out I’m not the only one with that idea!

Joanna Paterson over at Confident Writing posts “You Don’t Need a Book to Start Enjoying Poetry.”  She says she, probably like most of us who occasionally read poetry, rarely reads an entire book of poetry but opts instead to dip in now and then–a great activity for the busy person.  And she advocates looking for poetry in unexpected places and keeping an open mind about it. 

British writer Jane Gardam is on a campaign to get her neighbors to display poetry in their home and shop windows as well as inside businesses and the church yard, The Guardian writes.  I’ve seen Gardam’s highly praised books in the library and at the bookstore, and am putting them on my list.

Here are three wonderful poems.  And you can read each one in a minute or two.

1)  “Ozymandias,” by Percy Bysshe Shelley.  Read it and marvel how complex and moving a story Shelley tells in so few words.

2)  “Introduction to Poetry,” by Billy Collins.  Collins wants to put the fun and enjoyment back into poetry.  Good on him!

3)  “Late Poem To My Father,” by Sharon Olds.  A tribute to an imperfect but loving father.

Readers, what poems have moved you?

January 10, 2011

Read This: Poetry

Filed under: Books and writing,poetry,Read This! — Helen Gunnarsson @ 12:01 am
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No time to read?

Sure, you’re busy.  You work, you’re understaffed, you have a partner, you have a spouse, you have kids, you have other family members who need your time, you’re tired, you have chores, you travel, you’re on call, you do volunteer work, you’re active in professional organizations, you’re campaigning for a promotion, you’re a Very Important Person.  So, you sigh, much as you’d love to, you have No Time To Read.

Excuses, all of them. 

I know:  I’ve made many of them myself.

Here’s what all of us can do in the course of any day:  read a poem.  One poem.

Most of us probably don’t think of poems when we think of what we’d like to read or draw up our reading or book group lists.  Andrew Petcher’s comment on my post about the Elgin Marbles, quoting “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,” Lord Byron’s eloquent poem from 1812, on Lord Elgin’s plundering the Parthenon, got me thinking about how great it would be if we all read more poetry.  And nobody is too busy to find two minutes in a day to read a short poem.

Here are a few reasons to read poetry:

–Like reading anything else not required by your employment, it challenges and refreshes your mind and outlook.

–Most poems are short.  You can read many in just a minute or two.  You can also spend more time savoring the language and thinking about how the poet put words together, structured the poem, and what the poem means to or evokes in you.  (Of course, some poems are epics, and require the time of a hefty novel to read and enjoy.)

–In a good poem, every word counts.  There’s nothing superfluous.  A short poem might tell a very complex story and evoke strong feelings in the reader.  Reading a terse, carefully crafted piece, whether an essay, fiction, or poetry, is a delight.  It will also influence the reader to become a better writer.

–Poetry is beautiful. 

You can start by reading Byron’s poem, which Project Gutenberg has made freely available online.  For more poetic comments from Byron  on the Elgin Marbles, see his “The Curse of Minerva” (also free).  For background on Byron and the Elgin Marbles, see Ann Wuyts’ 2009 post on the Heritage Key blog.  (To my delight, I see that Ann has recommended several graphic travel novels on her bio page on the Heritage Key site.)

Another good way to get some poetry into your life is to sign up for Garrison Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac” via e-mail, RSS, or podcast.  It’s free, and Keillor starts every edition with a poem.

Do check out Andrew Petcher’s “Have Bag, Will Travel“; he’s just posted about his trip to Segovia, Spain.  Some of his commenters have their own very interesting and beautifully illustrated blogs, including James ‘s Plus Ultra.

Readers, any poems you’d recommend?

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