By Sandy Michel
April is national poetry month. The goal is to attract an audience to the wonders of the language of inner communication. To me it has always been the language of the soul. On April 6, 2008, at Amherst College, Galway Kinnell gave a reading entitled “I told my soul to sing.”
He read some of his poems as well as those of Emily Dickinson and one or two of the late Grace Paley. And of course, his great favorite, as well as mine, Walt Whitman. Two of his own poems read today were “Oatmeal’ and excerpts of the longer poem “Pulling a Nail.”
He very warmly and wittingly brought in some biographical details from his life. Many of us could identify with memories of our own childhood. Kinnell also discussed details of Whitman’s life and career.
The audience was familiar with Dickinson’s background. Galway Kinnell’s latest book is “Strong is Your Hold.” A CD is enclosed with the poet reading his poems. I bought a copy and had it autographed. The audience was enthusiastic. And the room was packed with poets and lovers of poetry.
One of my favorite Galway Kinnell poems is “St. Francis and the Sow.” Here is an excerpt:
stands for all things,
even those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
On May 8 at 7:30 pm there will be a poetry event at the Amherst Women’s Club, EMILY DICKINSON AND WALT WHITMAN, the Mother and Father of American Poetry, with poet Susan Kinsolving and actor Jack Gilpin reading. Reservations recommended: contact Nan Fischlein, 413-542-2034, or firstname.lastname@example.org.