Geraldine R. Dodge Panels – the Rationale

Posted: September 16, 2012 in Events
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Below you’ll find a little about the panels I’ll be attending at the GRD Poetry Festival and some of the whys.

Mirror Blosom Urn Collage
The topics in this panel – whether poetry should reflect or imagine, teach or entertain, be formed or formless – are very closely related to those in most debates on academic vs. “the people’s poetry.” As one who simultaneously believes in such boundaries and that they should not carry the predjudicial bias they do between poets/editors/critics, this discussion between Henri Cole, Terrance Hayes, Fanny Howe, and Larissa Szporluk is sure to dole out some serious food for thought.

Poetry and Pride
At first I thought this was going to be focused on the pros/cons of writers’ egos, the effects on and of their work, etc., but this is actually a panel discussion between Dan Bellm, Henri Cole, Nikky Finney, and Timothy Liu on poetry’s role in galvanizing pride in the LGBTQ community. It’s always great to hear voices and opinions from circles outside one’s own, so this is a nice twist compared to what I was expecting.

Festival Reading (12:00 to 1:10 pm)
Gregory Orr is reading. I’m a fanboy. No more needs be said other than that I’m lazy and have never heard of Taalam Acey or Larissa Szporluk, so being exposed to newness is wonderful (hopefully).

American Poetries
In line with my wish of lessening the affront taken to conceptual barriers betwixt the various styles of poetry, this discussion will focus specifically on divides within this nation’s poetic diversity, how none can be singled out as the definitive style, and what benefits might be wrought from taking each other a little more seriously. Poets will include Terrance Hayes, Rachel McKibbens, Arthur Sze, and Larissa Szporluk.

Where Poetry Matters
Last year I attended “From Homer to Hip Hop/Poetry and the Oral Tradition,” and I fully recommend it to anyone who has not attended that panel before. As I try not to repeat my attendances from festival to festival, I chose to go with “Where Poetry Matters,” because it focuses on the effects of poetry on communities, from providing a venue for self-expression to possibly something greater. As one who constantly questions the circle-jerk nature of this self-loving art form, it’s always nice to hear reassuring tales of how it affects others outside the clique. Poets will include Nikky Finney, Joseph Millar, Idra Novey, and Gregory Orr(!).

Poetry and Presence
Anything preaching the effectiveness of reading a poem has my heart. Too many glance over and rush through poems without stopping to dig into their layers. Henri Cole, Jane Hirshfield, Arthur Sze will look at how attentiveness is essential to poetry and how that same slowing down can enhance appreciation of everyday life off the page as well.

Going Public with Private Feelings
Instead of a touchy-feely confidence bolstering effort, this panel with Nicky Beer, Thomas Lux, Idra Novey, and Gregory Orr(!) will explore the difficulties and necessity of relaying personal truths into the larger world.

When Politics Become Personal
I’ve always admired political writers, those who, through personal experience or extreme sympathy, attempt to change outlooks for what they deem the better. In this panel, Nikky Finney, Juan Felipe Herrera, Fanny Howe, and Raúl Zurita debate when and where this type of focus would be acceptable and effective.

That wraps up my rational behind what I’ve chosen. There are a lot of other great panels, and I recommend most highly among them Poetry and Working Life, which I attended last festival and proved a revolutionary sand heartwarming experience. Other recommendations include A Voice for the Voiceless with Philip Levine, Juan Felipe Herrera, Natasha Trethewey, Raúl Zurita; Tell All the Truth But Tell it with a Slant, with Ada Limón, Thomas Lux, Idra Novey, Arthur Sze; and Lost and Found In Translation with Salgado Maranhão, Raúl Zurita (translation panels always prove fascinating).

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