KUSP's Poetry Show

African-American Poetry History, with guest David H. Anthony

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Phyllis Wheatley, Paul L. Dunbar, Robert Hayden

For this last Sunday in February, 2015, the end of African-American History Month, the Poetry Show took a look at the history of African-American poetry, with special guest David H. Anthony. David is not only a professor of African and African-American history at UCSC, but also the partner of host Dennis Morton on The Film Gang, the weekly KUSP film revue program.

22 - danthonyProfessor Anthony began with a brief survey of the early-1900s origins of what has evolved into African-American History Month. Following a discussion of the importance of oral traditions and music to African-American poetry, he reached back to the late 1700s in colonial North America for a poem by Phyllis Wheatley, an African slave woman living in Massachusetts who was allowed an education and became an accomplished poet.

Moving forward in time, David read a pair of poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906), one in “dialect” and another in the standard English of that time.

A more recent short poem by Michael S. Harper recalled some of the tragic racial history both of the days of the African slave trade and of the 1960s. Next, a poem by Robert Hayden recalled the struggles of runaway slaves, and the heroism of Harriet Tubman. A 1970s poem by Henry Dumas highlighted the intimate connection between poetry and music in African-American culture.

The last few African-American poets included in this week’s Poetry Show have Santa Cruz connections: Lucille Clifton, Al Young, Harryette Mullin. In parting, David and Dennis agreed that at least one more show in the near future will be needed to do justice to this subject.

 

New Mags: Poetry, Manhattan, Kenyon. Old LP: The Weary Blues

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In the first half of the KUSP Poetry Show for February 15, 2015, host Dennis Morton read selections from several current issues of favorite poetry periodicals:

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The show’s second half was given to side 2 of a 1959 LP recording titled The Weary Blues, with Langston Hughes reading a number of his poems arranged under the collective title Dream Montage. The reading was given an all-star musical accompaniment, composed by Charles Mingus and Leonard Feather. Players included Mingus and Horace Parlan.

The album title came from the 1925 Hughes poem The Weary Blues, which is not part of the Dream Montage. The best known poem in the montage is perhaps Harlem, whose line “a raisin in the sun” became the title of a play, and later a Sidney Poitier movie.

Ellery Akers: guest poet

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08 - Ellery AkersNorthern California poet and visual artist Ellery Akers paid a visit to the Poetry Show on February 8, 2015. The occasion was the publishing of her newest poetry collection, titled Practicing the Truth. Published by Autumn House Press, Practicing the Truth asks the question, “How can we live in a violent world and still affirm life?”

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Practicing the Truth is the third book by Ellery Akers. She has previously published one other book of poetry, Knocking on the Earth, and a juvenile novel titled Sarah’s Waterfall. Ellery is the featured reader at the upcoming event at Bookshop Santa Cruz, sponsored by Poetry Santa Cruz this Tuesday at 7:30 PM.

Holocaust Remembrance: guests Swanger, Sward, Weisner, Leash

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The Poetry Show for February 1, 2015 was an opportunity to hear participants in an event that occurred last Tuesday. It was an observance of the 2015 International Holocaust Remembrance Day, held at Felix Kulpa Gallery on the 70th anniversary of liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Three of this show’s guests were well-known local poets David Swanger, Robert Sward and Ken Weisner - past Poetry Show guests all. The fourth guest joining host Dennis Morton was Jessica Leash, a student cantor at Chadeish Yameinu Jewish Renewal Community of Santa Cruz. Jessica was one of the organizers of the remembrance event. She shared some background on the Holocaust and efforts to keep its memory fresh and relevant in today’s world. All four guests shared poems – their own and by others – drawing on their Jewish heritage.

Robert Burns birthday reprise

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PG_1063Burns_NaysmithcropJanuary 25 is the birthday of Scotland’s favorite poet Robert Burns, and the Poetry Show enjoys a birthday celebration. This year, we employed the podcast time machine to reprise a Burns birthday show from 2008. Dennis Morton, Lesley Anne Taylor and Susan Freeman co-hosted.

The trio were joined in-studio by local master Celtic fiddler Deby Benton Grosjean and friends, because no Scottish celebration is complete without music. The only thing missing was a haggis. Deby has since joined in several of the Poetry Show’s near-annual Burns birthday shows, most recently in 2013.

For those searching for more, there is a comprehensive Robert Burns website containing all of his poems and songs.

Readings: Rattle 45, Poetry Speaks

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rattle-45-fall-2014For the first half of the January 18, 2015 Poetry Show, host Dennis Morton read selections from the latest issue of Rattle, one of our favorite poetry periodicals.

This issue (#45) of the quarterly publication features “41 poets of faith”. Selections we heard (along with accompanying poet autobiographies):

  • Bathtub Baptism, by Leslie Marie Aguilar
  • What Is Faith, After All?, by Carol V. Davis
  • Transfiguration of the Bee Keeper’s Daughter, by Todd Davis
  • Signs and Wonders, by Ted Eisenberg
  • Little Angel, by Albert Haley
  • The Transformation, by Red Hawk
  • I Find It Difficult To Talk To My Bible Friend, by David James
  • What Is My Life About, by Julie Price Pinkerton
  • Stardust, by Colette Tennant

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In the second half of this week’s show, we heard early recordings of poets reading their own work, from the book/CD collection Poetry Speaks. This is one of the very best recorded poetry collections, and editor Rebecca Presson Mosby was a guest on the show on March 9, 2014. From the three CD set, we heard some of the earliest recordings, from CD number one.

The poets we heard:

  • Alfred Lord Tennyson 
  • Robert Browning
  • Walt Whitman
  • William Butler Yeats
  • Gertrude Stein
  • Robert Frost

Guest Poets: Atkinson, Ifland, Ortiz, Weisner

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The Poetry Show welcomed four local poets into the studio on January 11, 2015. The four were Chuck Atkinson, Alta Ifland, Lisa Allen Ortiz and Ken Weisner. The occasion calling for a gathering of these four at this time was an upcoming reading at Bookshop Santa Cruz on Tuesday, January 13. Sponsored by Poetry Sana Cruz, this reading features local writers.

All four poets shared poetry and thoughts on a variety of subjects, providing an enticing preview of the upcoming reading event. Plus, all four are veteran Poetry Show guests, appearing both solo and with others as in this case. From the Poetry Show archives:

Readings: Rhino, Rich, Marcus, Staying Alive

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07 - for-rhino-frontThe Poetry Show began 2015 with a selection of favorites, old and not so old. First off: two more poems from a beautifully produced book titled, For Rhino in a Shrinking World: An International Anthology of Poetry. This collection was previously featured on the December 7, 2014 Poetry Show, calling attention to the imminent extinction of the African rhinoceros. Host Dennis Morton read poems by Pascale Petit and Denis Hirson.

 

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The next segment of the show was a recollection of the poetry of Morton Marcus (1936-2009). Known here especially as a long-time host of the Poetry Show, the prolific and beloved Marcus continues to exert an influence on the local poetry scene through his memory and his work. Dennis read a number of selections from the Marcus catalog.

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Continuing the theme of “favorites”, Dennis read several selections from his favorite modern poetry anthology, Staying Alive, edited by Neil Astley. Poets included Ruth Stone, Chase Twitchell, Seán Ó Ríordáin, James Wright and James Dickey.

 

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A poem by Lawrence Joseph, titled Under a Spell, served as an introduction to several poems by Adrienne Rich (1929-2012). Through the miracle of recording, Adrienne Rich was allowed to read the poems herself for this week’s Poetry Show. We heard several selections from a favorite CD, titled Voice of the Poet: Adrienne Rich.

 

Anika Narayanan, guest poet

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28 - 2015Two years ago, Anika Narayanan was guest poet on the last Poetry Show of 2012. She had the distinction, at that time, of becoming the youngest (age 15 1/2) guest poet ever to visit the show. Almost exactly two years later, Anika returned as the guest of host Dennis Morton for the last Poetry Show of 2014. Had this been her first Poetry Show visit, she would still be the youngest guest poet ever. Two years is a long time for a teenager and interests come and go, but Anika has continued to study and write poetry so it’s interesting to hear what’s been happening in the world of a young poet.

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In the first half of the show, Anika shared some of her own recent poems. For the second half-hour, Anika and Dennis took turns reading some favorites by other poets, including Mary Oliver, Juanita Brunk, Sylvia Plath, Ted Kooser, Dan Gerber, Pablo NerudaRuth Stone and Lew Turco.

 

Just as we reprised Anika’s visit from the end of 2012, let’s end 2014 by paraphrasing the end of the blog post from the end of 2012:

It’s been a great 2014 on the KUSP Poetry Show, and the third full year of the Poetry Show blog. Happy New Year to all of our listeners/readers – join with us in looking forward to a mindful and poetic 2015.

Poet Speak: A Platform For Local Poets

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On December 21, 2014, the Poetry Show turned its radio spotlight on a long-running local poetry venue called Poet Speak. Host Dennis Morton welcomed a trio of local poets who have intimate knowledge of the subject. Robin Lysne, Darrell Darling and Dan Philips share the distinction of having been featured reader at one or more Poetry Speak sessions. The three came to the KUSP studio to share and discuss some of their poems with Dennis.

Poetry Speak meets monthly at the downtown Santa Cruz Public Library. Here’s the January announcement from the Poetry Santa Cruz events page:

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