News That Stays News
For immediate release:
EIL Poet Scott Poole and EIL Poetry Editor Kathleen Kirk
join central Illinois poets Judith Valente and Susan Baller-Shepard for
News That Stays News: Sustaining Our World Through Poetry
A poetry reading to celebrate Earth Day and National Poetry Month
Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 7:00-8:30 p.m.
First United Methodist Church
211 N. School St., Normal, Illinois (309) 452-2096
Sponsored by The Parret Endowment for Religion, Culture & the Arts
Scott Poole of Vancouver, Washington, a poet active in the Portland, Oregon metro-area, joins Illinois poets Kathleen Kirk, Susan Baller-Shepard, and Judith Valente for a National Poetry Month celebration of Earth Day with “News That Stays News: Sustaining Our World Through Poetry,” a poetry reading sponsored by The Parret Endowment for Religion, Culture, & the Arts, a bequest of Margaret Parret, at First United Methodist Church. Free and open to the public, the event takes place on April 22 at 7:00 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 211 N. School St., Normal, Illinois. Bruce Bergethon, General Manager of WGLT and producer of “Poetry Radio,” will host the event.
Scott Poole is the House Poet for “Live Wire! Radio,” a weekly public radio show taped in Portland, Oregon, broadcast throughout the country, and picked up in March, 2014, by Public Radio International. Poole writes “The Poetry Report,” a weekly poem based on the news, at Nailed Magazine. He is the author of three books of poetry—The Cheap Seats, Hiding from Salesmen, and The Sliding Glass Door—and the founding director of Wordstock, Portland’s annual book festival, founded by writer Larry Colton. Poole’s poem “To Run,” written in response to the Boston Marathon explosions, was aired on the “Here and Now” program at WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station, now part of the programming on WGLT. Scott Poole was a featured poet in Escape Into Life, edited by Kathleen Kirk, who invited him to Normal for this National Poetry Month event, and she also re-posted “To Run” at Escape Into Life on Poem for Your Pocket Day, last April, a special day of poetry sharing during the month of poetry awareness.
Kathleen Kirk, poetry editor for Escape Into Life, an international online magazine of the arts, is the author of five poetry chapbooks, most recently Nocturnes (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2012) and Interior Sculpture: poems in the voice of Camille Claudel (Dancing Girl Press, 2014). Fifteen poems from her book Interior Sculpture were set to music and dance in the world premier of Claudel by Columbus Dance Theatre in January, 2014. Winner of the 2011 Ekphrasis Prize from Ekphrasis Journal, Kirk is published widely in such print and online literary journals as Confrontation, Nimrod, Poems & Plays, Waccamaw, and Spoon River Poetry Review. Kirk taught English at DePaul University in Chicago, where she was an associate editor of Poetry East, and facilitated poetry workshops at the Normal Public Library for many years while she was co-editor of RHINO Magazine.
Susan Baller-Shepard is a graduate of the undergraduate Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa. Her award-winning writing has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Spirituality & Health, Writer’s Digest, and other publications, including the Washington Post “On Faith” and the Huffington Post Religion section. She is co-founder and editor of the Spiritual Book Club and its interview blog, “Real People, Real Lives, Real Spirituality.” In 2014, she served as copyeditor for João Magueijo’s English translation of the Rui Cardoso Martins book, Glad to Die. An ordained Presbyterian minister, with a master’s in social work, Baller-Shepard has worked on international development projects in Haiti, China, Brazil, and England, and is a keynote speaker at national and international conferences. She teaches at Heartland Community College and lives in Bloomington with her family.
Judith Valente is an on-air correspondent for PBS-TV, Chicago Public Radio, and WGLT. She is the author of the poetry collection Discovering Moons (Virtual Artists Collective, 2009), Inventing an Alphabet (The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, 2005), winner of the Aldrich Prize, and Atchison Blue: A Search for Silence, a Spiritual Home, and a Living Faith (Sorin Books, 2013), a memoir of her regular visits to Mount St. Scholastica Monastery at Atchison, Kansas. She is co-editor, with Charles Reynard, of Twenty Poems to Nourish Your Soul (LoyolaPress, 2006), and co-author, with Michael Bever and Brother Paul Quenon of the Abbey of Gethsemani, of The Art of Pausing: Meditations for the Overworked and Overwhelmed (ACTA Publications, 2013) a book of haiku, photographs, and reflections. Valente is a master naturalist and often covers ecology and the environment for WGLT, themes included in this Earth Day poetry program.
Bruce Bergethon, General Manager at WGLT, is the host of “Acousticity,” a program of “flexible folk” music, and a producer of “Poetry Radio,” a co-production with the English Department at Illinois State University, co-hosted by retired English professor Bill Morgan and poet and associate professor Kirstin Hotelling Zona. Bergethon reports on poetry and the arts for “GLT’s Sound Ideas” and plays the fiddle with The Old Men Boys, a folk band that also has women in it. He will host this poetry reading and might read some of his favorite newsy poems as well.
Kathleen Kirk proposed this program, “News That Stays News: Sustaining Our World Through Poetry,” to the Religion, Culture, & the Arts committee at First United Methodist Church in honor of Margaret Parret, a theatre and speech teacher who loved poetry and who left a bequest to support such cultural and arts programming. Later in life, Margaret Parret took great joy in reading poetry with Margaret Kirk (Kathleen’s mother) to various local groups and organizations. Ms Parret’s bequest also brought National Public Radio’s Scott Simon to Normal, to speak on current events in American culture, and sponsored Nathan the Wise at Heartland Theatre Company in 2009 as well as last year’s Compassion art exhibit.
The 20th-century poet Ezra Pound said, “Literature is news that stays news” (ABCs of Reading, 1934), reminding readers that eternal words still capture timely themes, and vice versa, and advising poets to “Make it new,” meaning to find new ways to tell ongoing and universal truths. The poet William Carlos Williams, in his long poem “Asphodel, that Greeny Flower,” wrote: “It is difficult to get the news from poems but men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.” After the 9/11 terrorist attack on the United States, W. H. Auden’s poem “September 1, 1939” circulated widely on the Internet, providing comfort as people sought to understand what had happened, and providing context and irony since Auden’s poem about the outbreak of World War II also echoed W.B. Yeats’s poem, “Easter, 1916,” about violence in Ireland. Ezra Pound’s advice to “Make it new” resonates sadly in this historical context, and poets know that and keep trying to report this difficult news to those who sometimes don’t want to read or listen till after the cold, hard fact of war or violence.
Today’s poets are still “making it new” in poems based on the news or on the recurring experiences, thoughts, and feelings of human beings in history and in the world today. Like William Carlos Williams, Margaret Parret knew that poetry contains something to sustain humankind in the search for life and joy and meaning. Twenty-first century poets Baller-Shepard, Kirk, Poole, and Valente handle the difficult news of climate change, politics and religion, economics, education, and the human heart and mind in poems about current events, science, the environment, and American culture in their program at 7:00 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 211 N. School St., Normal, Illinois (309) 452-2096.