Posted in Uncategorized, tagged billy collins, block island poetry project, frank bidart, lisa starr, Massachusetts Poetry Festival, michael ansara, Nancy Greenaway, poem, poet, poet laureate, poetry, small presses on March 12, 2012 |
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Nancy Greenaway, also known to readers of this blog as the Snowy Owl Poet, just told me about two New England poetry events taking place this spring.
The ninth annual Block Island Poetry Project, featuring Rhode Island Poet Laureate Lisa Starr, will be offering four workshops, starting in April 12 and going to May 13. Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins will be there there May 12 and 13. I include a photo of Collins from the event website.
The other event is scheduled for a city best known for witches: “The fourth Massachusetts Poetry Festival will be held Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, April 20–22, in historic Salem. The three-day event, which will bring 1,500 poets and poetry lovers to the city, will showcase a variety of extraordinary local and regional poets, and engage the public through poetry readings, interactive workshops, panel discussions, music, film and visual arts, and performances geared toward a diverse statewide audience.” Check the line-up. It looks super.
(I see that my brother’s longtime friend Michael Ansara is on the advisory board!)
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged arbitration, auto industry, bargaining, foreign student, hersey, income inequality, inequality, j-1, labor, labor union, maine, ohio, pension, philip levine, poem, poet, poet laureate, poetry, union, visa, wisconsin, working man, workingman on August 21, 2011 |
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Philip Levine, 83, is a poet laureate for our times. He expresses, as the NY Times puts it, the “gritty voice of the workingman.”
“Half an hour to dress, wide rubber hip boots,
gauntlets to the elbow, a plastic helmet
like a knight’s but with a little glass window
that kept steaming over, and a respirator
to save my smoke-stained lungs. I would descend
step by slow step into the dim world
of the pickling tank and there prepare
the new solutions from the great carboys
of acids lowered to me on ropes — all from a recipe
I shared with nobody and learned from Frank O’Mera
before he went off to the bars on Vernor Highway
to drink himself to death. A gallon of hydrochloric …”
Read the Times article.
Levine’s appointment as poet laureate feels timely to me for several reasons.
While income inequality in the country has become increasingly pronounced over the last few decades, public attitudes toward the labor unions that worked to level the playing field have become markedly negative. Are unions really no longer needed? Certainly, there have been abuses of their power: for example, the way some teachers unions have protected bad teachers. And weak government officials in Central Falls (RI), having routinely succumbed to the demands of public safety workers, now find there is no money to pay the promised benefits. This summer Central Falls filed for bankruptcy.
But intensely hostile antilabor actions in Wisconsin, Ohio, and even Maine are like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
A balance between workers and other stakeholders seems to make more sense. Workers are still sometimes abused, after all. That’s why I was happy to see unions helping out foreign “cultural exchange” students to protest conditions at a Hersey’s plant in Pennsylvania last week. (I blogged about that here.)
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