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Sydney Lea
Newbury, Vermont
Sydney Lea is Vermont Poet Laureate
Interests: Conservation, literacy, my children and grandchildren.
Recent Activity
It has been a pleasure to be guest blogger on the BestAmPo site, and interesting to gather responses to my comments. (There were a couple of instances in which I was criticized for saying things I never said, but in my experience that’s the norm.) For this final post, perhaps because I just saw Dustin Hoffman’s debut film as a director, Quartet, which achingly portrays the trials of senescence; for this last commentary, I want to pay a brief and inadequate tribute to Ruth Stone, my predecessor as Vermont Poet Laureate. Ms. Stone was remarkable in every way: until the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
My "Puritan" background is actually Pennsylvania "Dutch" (Mennonite) on my mom's side. But the work ethic was and is strong in that community, believe me. I believe in hard work, of course, but not (anymore) to the point of neurosis. I took my mother's APPLY YOURSELF as an indication that I never had nor would. Have a good weekend, S
I’ve been writing newspaper column for five regional papers ever since January of 2012, when my stint as Vermont Poet Laureate began. A number of people have asked if I’ll ever present the thoughts I’ve offered there in book form. That seems unlikely. I doubt any publisher would sponsor a volume consisting of one- and two-page essays. I am nonetheless honored by these expressions of interest –and a bit surprised: a late-comer to poetry as a mode of inquiry, which seems a reasonable way to describe it, I still find it remarkable that readers should be at all concerned with... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
I'm with you, kid.
Gee, coming from the creator of "Merry 'N Square & A Poem," that really hurts. I'll out me quill back in me goose, and bow down to your the high mythic Oirish majesty.
Nah. They were awful.
I agree with Stacey here. I like Don Hall and quite a bit of his poetry, but his assertion (I am not quoting but glossing) that you must attempt to rival Yeats or Milton or whomever each time you sit down to write is the purest nonsense. Who, including Don, cold ever hav e truly started a poem with sort of inbuilt challenge. I recently went back to some unpublished work by my hand and thought, "Well, this is no good. But I just hadn't put in the time yet to have the skills to handle it. Let's try it now." I'm not the one to judge the results objectively, but the experiment was fruitful. Yet what I was really getting at was the fact that patently awful poems -- Hallmarky stuff, say -- often resonate more profoundly with the Common Reader than a lot of our more sophisticated efforts. We need to ponder that, not that I am offering a pat conclusion.
--> I was at a gathering not long ago –the venue isn’t important– when I heard a soldier recite a poem. He’d been struggling after getting home, and small wonder: twice deployed to Afghanistan, he’d also been twice wounded, one of those times pretty critically. He told us that the poem he gave us had kept him going through several horrific ordeals. I think the poem was called “Hope.” It was awful. For all its clichés and bromides, however, that poem had been a literal life-saver for the man, so by what right do I sneer at it? Driving home... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
Thanks for those good comments. I am grateful the thoughts resonated with you. Look: I'm an Ivy-girt liberal myself, but I trust I have never assumed that my perspective was the only one worth countenancing.
Pool by the Sheep Gate He’d been lying there most of his life. When the angel troubled the water, he couldn’t move fast enough to be first. He had no wife or brother to carry him: no one that love, a sense of justice, or pity moved to the task. So when the wonderworker came, he was resigned again to seeing someone else cured. He didn’t ask, even when the healer looked him in the eye and inquired if he wished to be healed– not a strange question, considering his vocation of living in hope denied: he was a professional... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
Traveling around my little home state as its poet laureate, I’ve especially enjoyed that audience members outside academia tend to ask truly basic questions, which after all represent concerns that everyone feels on contemplating a poem for the first time: who’s talking? why? where? Too much current poetry can’t answer those questions on the page, and even as a lifelong lover of poetry, I turn away from them, conscious of my biological clock’s ticking. But in fact the most frequent questions I hear involve form and meter. There are those who wonder if something can be called poetry if it... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
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Mar 29, 2013