Sunday, May 04, 2008

Linda Pastan Birthday Reading

What A poetical celebration of Linda Pastan's birth, life and poetry.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008 at 7:00 PM
Barnes & Noble Bookseller
3311 Tittabawassee Rd.
Saginaw , MI 48603
phone 989.790.9214

Who should comeJoin us if you love poetry or are curious as to what poetry is all about. Join us if you'd like to talk to people whose hearts and minds are more open than closed. Join us if you can agree or disagree with someone's opinion respectfully. Bring a book if you can. It's OK if it's from your library. Note: Linda Pastan will not be joining our group.
Find out what poems sound like out loud. Listen in on the group and then find a place where you can jump in and read something yourself. Great fun for the whole family. If you have specialized knowledge regarding our poet, do not hesitate to regale us with your story. Don't expect to leave our event with a definitive und
erstanding of the poet or the poems but please do seek to experience and communicate the joys of poetry with others. Join in our informal discussion of poems we know and love and poems we are only just discovering. Better readers make better writers. Visit with our group where everyone's poetry is valued if not appreciated. If you have a smile to share be sure to bring it; otherwise be prepared to leave with one on your face and in your heart. If you're too far away to join us, create your own Birthdays of Poets Reader's Workshop – adaptable for readers of any age and community. Speak up now and forever share your peace. Tell (bring!) a friend.
How to find the organizer(s)We are in the Poetry section, near the window that affords a view of Tittabawassee Road. The staff at Barnes & Noble will put up a sign that says 'Reserved for The River Junction Poets at 7 p.m.' We'll be getting a few folding chairs to add around the coffee table there.

JEFFREY BROWN: As I read your poetry there was a kind of ease to your writing. Is it easy to achieve that ease?

LINDA PASTAN: No, there is no ease in writing. The job is to make it by the end feel as if it flows easily. But each poem of mine goes through something like 100 revisions.
LINDA PASTAN: Yeah, yeah, easily.
JEFFREY BROWN: What is it that you're looking for?
LINDA PASTAN: Well, I want every word to have to be there. I want a certain kind of impact on the reader or on myself when I read it, the sort of condensed energy that can then go out.
JEFFREY BROWN: You write a lot about your life, domestic issues, real-life issues.
LINDA PASTAN: I have always written about what's around me, both the surroundings here in the woods, but I mean, there's always something changing. When my children were small, there were a lot of small children running through the poems. As friends and family have started to age and die, there's a lot more darkness and death in them. But I think I've always been interested in the dangers that are under the surface, but seems like simple, ordinary domestic life. It may seem like smooth surfaces, but there are tensions and dangers right underneath, and those are what I'm trying to get at.
JEFFREY BROWN: Now, I read that you had started writing, you got married, you had children, and you stopped writing for many years.
LINDA PASTAN: Right. I was a product of the '50s -- what I called the perfectly polished floor syndrome. I had to have a homemade dessert on the table for my husband every night, and this was when I was in college I was married and then in graduate school. And I felt that I couldn't be the perfect wife and mother that I was expected to be, and commit myself to something as serious as my poetry, and I wasn't going to do that half-heartedly. It was all or nothing. And I stopped writing for almost ten years, and I was very unhappy about it during those years. And my husband finally said he was tired of hearing what a good poet I would have been if I hadn't gotten married. Let's do something about it.
JEFFREY BROWN: Now, you just have been given a lifetime achievement award, so I want to ask you, as you look back at your lifetime of work, what do you see?
LINDA PASTAN: From the time, and I was about 30 when I started writing again seriously, I've written a lot of poems. I like to think that they're good enough for someone to have given me an award for them, but you never know. Writers, I think, vary from thinking their work is absolutely wonderful to thinking it's absolutely terrible, why is anyone reading it? And I think most artists go through that... that time of doubt and time of assurance. And it feels good that someone from the outside says "Yes, it's okay, you're doing okay."
Linda Pastan was born in New York City, graduated from Radcliffe College and received an MA from Brandeis University. Her awards include the Dylan Thomas Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Di Castagnola Award (Poetry Society of America), the Bess Hokin Prize (Poetry Magazine), the Maurice English Award, the Charity Randall Citation of the International Poetry Forum, and the 2003 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. She was a recipient of a Radcliffe College Distinguished Alumnae Award. PM/AM and Carnival Evening were nominees for the National Book Award and The Imperfect Paradise was a nominee for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She served as Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1991 to 1995 and was on the staff of the Breadloaf Writers Conference for twenty years. She lives in Potomac, Maryland.
Carnival Evening
Henri Rousseau, oil on canvas

Despite the enormous evening sky
spreading over most of the canvas,
its moon no more
than a tarnished coin, dull and flat,
in a devalued currency;

despite the trees, so dark themselves,
stretching upward like supplicants,
utterly leafless; despite what could be
a face, rinsed of feeling, aimed
in their direction,

the two small figures
at the bottom of this picture glow
bravely in their carnival clothes,
as if the whole darkening world
were dimming its lights for a party.
  • Ms. Pastan's poems have been read on Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac as many as 34 times.
  • About Pastan's The Five Stages of Grief, the poet May Sarton said, "It is about all her integrity that has made Linda Pastan such a rewarding poet. Nothing is here for effect. There is no self-pity, but in this new book she has reached down to a deeper layer and is letting the darkness in. These poems are full of foreboding and acceptance, a wry unsentimental acceptance of hard truth. They are valuable as signposts, and in the end, as arrivals. Pastan's signature is growth." from accessed 5/4/08
Expect more at the Birthdays of Poets Blog. Go now.

All best and see you Wednesday,
Andrew Christ
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Parting Thoughts
Are you not aware? You are a cultural event, and so is everyone else.

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