Saturday, October 28, 2006

Harvard and Poetry

There are two interesting articles about poetry in Harvard Magazine this month (not to be confused with 02138, discussed here recently).

One is about the Grolier Poetry Book Shop in Harvard Square. If you know poetry, you probably know the Grolier, one of just two all-poetry bookstores in the U.S. I don’t know poetry, but I do know the Grolier from my brief time in Cambridge. During my last visit, in 2005 on the way to Bread Loaf, the shop appeared to be on its last legs. Now, though, the magazine reports that the store changed owners for only the third time in its 80 year history, and the new boss, Ifeanyi Menkiti, a poet and professor of philosophy at Wellesley, has rejuvenated the place. Sounds like good news. [It looks as though the website might not have been updated in more than a year, but I suppose first things first.]

The second article, which, with any kind of luck, will eventually be on the magazine’s website (they currently have content from the September-October issue), is about Seamus Heaney, including an interview. The interviewer, Adam Kirsch, asks Heaney about the connection between his work as a teacher and as a writer.
“Teaching and writing have tended to proceed on parallel lines, but there have been times when there was indeed carry-over from the classroom to the “creative” work. In the 1970s, for example, I found myself learning to relish the poetry of Andrew Marvell and Sir Thomas Wyatt, and getting a handle on poetry of plainer speech than I had dwelt with heretofore. Which led me into a new appreciation of middle Yeats, of the short three-beat line and forward-driving syntax, and that paid in, in turn, to a poem like “Casualty” in Field Work. The traffic, however, was usually the other way. My teaching was animated by what I was reading and being excited by as a poet. Early on, Ted Hughes. Very early on, Hopkins.”

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