THIRTY TOP MASS APPEAL POETRY MOMENTS IN U.S. HISTORY

 

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1. “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe is published in the New York Evening Mirror, January 29, 1845

2.  Robert Frost reads “The Gift Outright” at John F. Kennedy’s inaugural, January 20, 1961

3.  Martin Luther King delivers his “I Have A Dream” speech, August 28, 1963

4. Dead Poets  Society, starring Robin Williams, released, June 9, 1989

5. Neil Armstrong’s moon landing speech, July 20, 1969

6. “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” first played at flag-raising ceremony on Fort Warren, May 12, 1861

7. Lincoln’s “Gettysburg address,” November 19, 1863

8. Cassius Clay, boxer and poet, defeats Sonny Liston,  heavyweight champion, February 25, 1964

9. “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus recited at the Statue of Liberty’s Dedication, October 28, 1886

10. The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan released, May 27, 1963

11. “The Star-Spangled Banner” first published, in Baltimore, September 20, 1814

12. Sylvia Plath’s suicide in England, February 11, 1963

13. Japan wins Russo-Japanese War, starting Haiku rage in the West, September 5, 1905

14. “Old Ironsides” by Oliver Wendell Holmes published in Boston Daily Advertiser, September 16, 1830

15. Jack Kerouac reads his poetry on Steven Allen show (with Allen on piano), November 16, 1959

16. James Russell Lowell delivers “Ode” at Harvard Commemoration, July 21, 1865

17. Mick Jagger reads Shelley’s “Adonais” at Brian Jones’ memorial in England, July 5, 1969

18. Ella Wheeler Wilcox publishes her most famous poem in New York Sun, the year she publishes controversial Poems of Passion, February 25, 1883

19. Dana Gioia publishes his essay, “Can Poetry Matter?” in The Atlantic, May, 1991

20. “Mary Had A Little Lamb” by Sarah Josepha Hale published, May 24, 1830

21. Actor Jimmy Stewart reads poem “I’ll Never Forget A Dog Named Beau” on the Tonight Show, making Johnny Carson cry, July 28, 1981

22. Ronald Regan’s Challenger Disaster Speech, January 28, 1986

23. Maya Angelou reads “On the Pulse of Morning” at Bill Clinton inaugural, January 20, 1993

24. Longfellow’s “Song of Hiawatha” published, November 10, 1855

25. Ezra Pound wins Bollingen Prize with NY Times headline: “Pound In Mental Clinic Wins Prize for Poetry Penned In Treason Cell,” February 20, 1949

26. “Rapture” by Blondie released, January 12, 1981

27. “The Music Man” by Meredith Wilson opens, December 19, 1957

28. Elizabeth Alexander reads “Praise Song for the Day” at Barack Obama’s inaugural, January 20, 2009

29. Publisher Horace Liveright makes offers for works by Pound, Eliot, and Joyce, January 3, 1922.

30. Favorite Poem Project launched by poet laureate Robert Pinsky, April 1, 1997

 

I HAVE A BOLLINGEN AND YOU DON’T

“I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people.  For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world.”

Who said this?

A. George Bush in 2002?

B.  Barack Obama in 2009?

The answer is B.

Spoken while accepting his Nobel Peace Prize.

The dubiousness of prize-giving drives human behavior. We all want to win the prize, grab the ring, possess that tangible token of our worth in the eyes of the world; this tangibility is what our invisible souls desire.  We cannot keep being fire or air or water forever; we want the earth, we want to hold the heavy trophy aloft and say, ‘This is mine, and you are all witnesses to the fact that I have won.’

This desire to make our dreams visible is not a bad thing, per se.

But we must watch that prostitution does not get tangled up in our love.

The dignity of our triumph depends on a system that gives, on another pair of hands which presents the prize, and the power to give a prize is a power that eclipses the prize itself, for prizes are useful to promote all sorts of wrong, and superstition would as quickly produce a symbol as science would question a symbol.

The poet, who lives by the symbol, is especially tempted to glory in a prize; but true poets are not beholden to symbolism; on the contrary, the poet learns symbolism to be free of it.

Behavior which bends towards a prize is not to be trusted.  The prize which stirs behavior a certain way should make us wary.   The behavior is finally all, and the prize merely a glimpse of it, and truth and modesty should attend, at every step, the receiving and the giving.

Foetics does not damn the prize.  It merely prizes the courage to look deeply into that crucial instant when giving becomes taking.

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