Monday, December 31, 2007

Attention Videographers and Filmmakers

Split This Rock Poetry Festival has put out a call for film and video submissions. Looking for a max of 15 minutes on "artistic, experimental, and challenging interpretations of poetry that explore critical social issues." Deadline is January 30, 2008. It will be juried by Francesco Levato, Executive Director of the Poetry Center of Chicago.

Do you have memories of great film or video exploration of poems or the role of poetry in witness and provocation? If so, leave a comment and links if available.

Howard Nemerov for some New Year's inspiration

A recent reading by Brookland Area Writers and Artists included this poem by former poet laureate Howard Nemerov, which I thought a great example of poetry using humor to skewer jingoism.


When I took a job teaching in Massachusetts
I didn't know and no one told me that I'd have to sign
An oath of loyalty to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Now that I'm hooked, though, with a house
And a mortgage on the house, the road ahead
Is clear: I sign. But I want you gentlemen to know
That till today it never once occurred to me
To overthrow the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
By violence or subversion, or by preaching either.
But now I'm not so sure. It makes a fellow think,
Can such things be? Can such things be in the very crib
Of our liberties, and East of the Hudson, at that?
So if the day come that I should shove the Berkshire Hills
Over the border and annex them to Vermont,
Or snap Cape Cod off at the elbow and scatter
Hyannis to Provincetown beyond the twelve-mile limit,
Proclaiming apocalypsopetls to my pupils
And with state troopers dripping from my fingertips
Squeaking "You promised, you broke your promise!"
You gentlemen just sit there with my signature
And keep on lawyer-talking like nothing had happened,
Lest I root out that wagon tongue on Bunker Hill
And fungo your Golden Dome right into Fenway Park
Like any red-celled American boy ought to done
Long ago in the first place, just to keep in practice.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Garcia Lorca in Iran

This past Sunday's New York Times Magazine featured a wonderful essay by Zarah Ghahramani (as told to Robert Hillman) titled "Poetry of Protest."

In it, Ghahramani talks about how the work of Federico García Lorca inspired her as a young woman living under Iran's dictatorship. She became involved in the peaceful student protests and Garcia Lorca was an inspiring model for her during this time.

...I raised my voice in the street, along with thousands of other student protesters. I believed I was keeping faith with García Lorca, and also with the great poets Saadi and Hafez of long-ago Persia, who honored love and liberty.
-- Zarah Ghahramani

It's a moving testament to the power of poetry to inspire and to agitate. I was reminded of Dennis Nurkse at the Cut Loose the Body reading who spoke of García Lorca's martyrdom for freedom and his example of one who was tortured for his beliefs and his standing against tyranny. -- Dan Vera

You can read the entire essay here.