ARTICLES ABOUT THE 2015 MASSACHUSETTS POETRY FESTIVAL
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Regie Gibson is a hard cat to pin down. Remix and collage is a staple of Gibson’s work, and he is as comfortable lecturing to a university audience about the correlations between The Iliad and gangster rap as he is singing Shakespeare’s sonnets over syncopated funk beats with the eclectic, six member band, Atlas Soul.
When I open Rachel Wiley's book Fat Girl Finishing School I’m reminded of crossing the threshold of a macaroon shop to see hundreds of the gorgeous pastries, in rows and rows of colors, just waiting to be delighted in and devoured. Rose-hued and mint-tinted, almond and maroon.
Adrian Matejka’s third book The Big Smoke (Penguin Books 2013) was nominated for a Pulitzer and was a finalist for the National Book Award; as well, it won numerous other accolades. I had the same visceral reaction to the book as I’ve had to riveting suspense films because of its taut pacing and violent lyric bursts.
President Obama’s Inaugural planners asked Richard Blanco to draft not one but three poems for them to choose from for his reading at the President’s swearing-in on January 21, 2013. “One Today” was selected, and reading it to millions of viewers that day became for Blanco a “life changer, a game changer."
It’s hard for him to pin down his major influences as a poet. “I love the work of many, many poets, in English and in translation. I’m drawn to both the reckless and the formal, probably because each of those dimensions can be found in the other,” he says.
The tenderness with which he views life in the town of Belmont, Massachusetts is both unexpected and captivating. And yet these poems about the commonplace of our lives are offset by a deep unease with both what is and the alternatives to what is.
Poetry is Duhamel’s affirmative answer to all that life throws at her, from the dissolution of love to the certain knowledge that our time here is limited. Though she will welcome you with the familiar or even the frivolous, she will drop you off at the big questions of transcendence and mystery.
It’s easy to become addicted to Rita Dove’s poetry. She draws us in with her clear, direct approach. Once involved, we become ensnared in the allusiveness and subtlety of her diction and imagery. Seemingly straight-forward poems like “I have been a stranger in a strange land,” unfold into complex and subtle mysteries.
Today as I glance out at January’s first whiteout, obliterating the world from my window, I happily nestle back under blankets to recharge with Nick Flynn’s first book, Some Ether. First books read as coming of age novels in that they make a stake in outlining a poet’s primary obsessions and concerns. In Some Ether the poems ache for interconnectedness and express fear of drowning in that need. Full of uncertainties, Flynn longs to find beauty in what is often an ugly and terrible world.