Spanning the Pond, the Poets Laureate Read

Poets Laureate Donald Hall and Andrew Motion share a moment before their joint readingAttending poetry readings seems like one of the great fringe benefits of my job, except that occasions such as last evening?s are free and open to the public at large.

The Poets Laureate of the United States and the United Kingdom came together in a historic joint reading at the Library of Congress in a program called ?Poetry Across the Atlantic,? sponsored by the Library, the Poetry Foundation and London?s Poetry Society.

What I?m struck by in such settings is how, just as reading a good novel can stoke my internal desire to write great prose, so too can poetry readings stir within me a need to commit lofty verses to paper.

Donald Hall and Andrew Motion each elicited laughter, but they were deeply moving in other ways.

I struggled mightily when Mr. Hall read about his wife?s bout with leukemia and her ultimate passing. And I made it through almost the entire program with relatively dry eyes until the final line read by Mr. Motion, who told of straining unsuccessfully to hear his father?s dying word.

It?s a happy state of affairs when one?s place of work enriches you ? not monetarily, but emotionally.

(Image: Poets Laureate Donald Hall and Andrew Motion share a moment before their joint reading. Photo by Michaela McNichol, Library of Congress.)

Other resources:

The Washington Post covered the event as well. And I swear that I wrote the ?Spanning the Pond? headline last night, before I saw their own headline! (ADDENDUM: I just read Bob?s story in full, and darned if the tears aren?t welling up again!)

Poetry at the Library of Congress

The Poet Laureate

The Poetry Foundation

2 Comments

  1. Damien Jorgensen
    May 17, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    Sounds excellent, wish I’d been there

  2. Sophie Salmon
    July 11, 2007 at 3:26 am

    I’ve always found poetry to be beautiful. It’s amazing how poets could string a few words together and form something profound and touching. Poetry readings, for me, have always seemed almost magical. Just by listening to words, I would get transported to a different world that is entirely not my own. It gets me to feel things I have not known. It presents different perspectives, and from this, I could learn much.

    It sounds like you really had fun, how I wish I could have been there too.

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