About The News from Poems
Two forces led to the development of this website: revelation and disgruntlement. William Carlos Williams once said in his poem ‘Asphodel That Greeny Flower,’ It’s difficult/ to get the news from poems/ yet men die miserably every day /for lack /of what is found there. Because I take things literally, (not one of my finer qualities), I read that and thought, “What if poetry and news could be found near each other, what if they cohabited? Think of the saved lives!” Then a nationally acclaimed poet launched his free newspaper poetry column. (Here comes the disgruntlement part). Although he created a fantastic opportunity to put poetry where people could find it ( his column is published by hundreds of newspapers throughout the country, reaching millions of readers and possibly serving as a kind of psychic mineral supplement amid articles about debt, war, and injustice), I didn’t like his column. I thought I could do better. That’s how the idea for the “It could be verse” column was born.
After five years of writing the column, and featuring a seemingly inexhaustible supply of Vermont voices, I wanted to make this work more widely available to other community newspapers, to teachers and writers, and to readers, hence: this website.
The News From Poems is organized around the six seasons of Vermont (mud, spring, summer, fall, stick and winter) and showcases poems inspired by or at least referring to those seasons. Many of the poems also evoke the distinctive geographic character, the rivers and mountains, twiggy woods, snowy fields, buggy Junes, rocky outcrops… making a paean to the places of Vermont.
As a society we’ve begun to recognize how our distinctive communities are strengthened by eating and shopping locally, which I believe includes reading local newspapers and patronizing local bookstores. Among the many ways these institutions support us is by offering us venues to express our opinions (especially newspapers) and to hear to the words of literary neighbors (especially bookstores). It follows then that encountering the our state’s great writers, what Aldo Leopold calls “our cultural harvest,” can enhance our communal well- being, and, if not save, then at the very least enrich our lives.
Wherever you are discovering this website– whether in Monkton, Morrisville, Minneapolis or Morocco– I hope you’ll enjoy and utilize what William Carlos Williams hints is the antidote to human misery: The News From Poems.
The News from Poems: A Guided Tour of Contemporary VT Poetry
Osher Presentation in Newport, VT, May 2011
An energetic mix of anecdotes about VT poets and poems and a discussion about putting poetry in ordinary places, so as to make it more available and ubiquitous.
Poetry is Abloom!
Vermont Edition, April 18, 2011
Julia Shipley discusses the origins of “It could be verse,” a monthly poetry column featuring poems written by Vermonters.
Go to VPR website >