Sunday, January 29, 2012

Poetry Out Loud- Part Two (X J Kennedy)

Here is part two of Poetry Out Loud, featuring X J Kennedy. This is a rarity for me. I listened to Mr. Kennedy do a poetry reading at Sewanee in 2006. It was the most entertaining reading I have ever witnessed. The next he sat down and did the same performance for my audience- so this interview has a brief introduction by me, followed by a reading by X J Kennedy. It is one of my favorites!


Listen to the interview here:

Here is Mr. Kennedy's bibliography:

In the early 1970s Kennedy and his wife Dorothy co-edited the influential journal, Counter/Measures, a precursor in the New Formalist movement to The Reaper and The Formalist. He also served as poetry editor of The Paris Review. Kennedy's poetry has been published in The New Yorker, Poetry, and The Hudson Review. He became a freelance writer in 1978.
Kennedy is most recognized for his light verse, and was the first recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Michael Braude Award for Light Verse. His first book, Nude Descending a Staircase, won the 1961 Lamont Poetry Prize of the Academy of American Poets, and his dozens of books have won awards including Guggenheim and National Arts Council fellowships, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry magazine, and a Los Angeles Times Book Award for poetry (in 1985 for Cross Ties: Selected Poems), the 1969/70 Shelley Memorial Award, the Golden Rose of the New England Poetry Club, honorary degrees from Lawrence and Adelphi Universities and Westfield State College. Kennedy received the National Council of Teachers of English Year 2000 Award for Excellence in Children's Poetry. He received the 2004 Poets' Prize for his work, The Lords of Misrule: Poems 1992-2002.
Kennedy also wrote a series of children's poetry books ("Brats"), translated Aristophanes' Lysistrata into English and edited the anthology Tygers of Wrath: Poems of Hate, Anger, and Invective (University of Georgia Press, 1981). Kennedy edited several editions of the textbook anthology Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. With his wife Dorothy and scholar Jane E. Aaron he is the editor of The Bedford Reader, a collegiate literature textbook also used for teaching to the AP English Language and Composition test.
Kennedy and his wife Dorothy have five children and six grandchildren, and reside in Lexington, Massachusetts

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Poetry Out Loud- Part One (Philip Schultz)

This month kicks off Poetry Out Loud, a nationwide program sponsored by the NEA, that features high school students from across the country reciting poetry in their classrooms. Each class selects a winner and then has a school-wide competition that must fit within the program's guidelines. The website is The school winner then moves on to the state competition. Each state selects a winner, who receives an all-expense paid trip to Washington D.C. for the national competition.

The program, which began in 2006, was the brainchild of Dana Gioia, the former director of the NEA. I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Gioia on several occasions, and he has been a guest on my website. Mr. Gioia has done more than anyone else I have met to promote poetry in the United States. The goal of Poetry Out Loud is to create a national competition that has similar goals as the National Spelling Bee.

I have the privilege of teaching juniors at a high school at The First Academy, a high school located in Orlando, Florida. My classes, and my school, have participated in this program for three years now. It is amazing to see the look on students faces as they watch their classmates stand alone at the front of the classroom and read and interpret a poem from memory. It prepared from them for real-life presentations and gives them confidence to stand in front of a group. They also understand the importance of hearing 'poetry out loud'.

Over the years I have interviewed several of our country's finest living poets. I will post a new blog each week over the next month featuring a poetry interview I have done. One of my goals with my website was to create a forum for poets to read their work to a large audience. It brings me great joy to bring these interviews to you. Teachers are welcome to use any of these interview without my permission. Just spread the word. Poetry is still alive! Enjoy.

My first guest will be Philip Schultz. This interview features Mr. Schultz reading and discussing FAILURE, a book of poems that won the Pulitzer Prize.

Here is what I wrote when the interview was first broadcast in 2008:

FAILURE is a brilliant new book of poetry by Philip Schultz; his first new collection in fifteen years. Failure is something we don't like to talk about, yet it is something that most of us know a lot about. 
There is nothing wrong with failure (hopefully we learn from it). Mr. Schultz's collection is thought provoking and wise. During the interview he reads four poems aloud. 
One of my goals when I started this venture was to offer poets a venue where listeners could listen to them read their work. I believe it is the best way to experience a poem.