Monday, September 16, 2013

Poetry for Farmers and Retired Roofers

Elizabeth Floyd Mair has a wonderful interview with Vermont poet laureate Syd Lea (who visits Tues.) in Sunday's Times Union:

Q: You've written that if you picture an audience in your mind at all as you write, it's your Vermont hill farm neighbors, who, you note, would never elect to read a word of your poetry. Why write for them?

A: I have a feeling that too much poetry since the era of Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot sends this message, whether subliminally or not: "Hey, you can't come in here; you haven't learned the language that we insiders use." One of the reasons I so admire Robert Frost is that any reader — from a first-grader to a graduate student to a farmer to a labor organizer — can get something out of his poems. Those poems are scarcely simple-minded; indeed they are profoundly complex. But complexity is not the same as complication.

Imagining that my beloved 90-year-old neighbor — not a farmer, but a retired roofer — might read a poem of mine and get something out of it too — keeps me from erring toward mere complication.

Read more here:

Read more about Lea's visit: