How can bringing poetry to life lead us to live fuller lives?
John Ashbery is a remarkably exciting poet who pushes the reader to the frontiers of their own imagination through a constant challenge of vivid, shifting imagery. Reading Ashbery is an exercise in attention and openness - one must be entirely present with the poem and their own experience of it, as surprising language creates a multifaceted, fractal narrative. However, by staying awake (not slipping into an unconscious mode of reading, as we so often do) the reader manages to keep the thread of the story and reaches the end of the poem stimulated and awestruck.
Maggie Nelson is an American poet-critic-theorist who has lived and worked on both coasts. Her work is fascinating in it’s shimmering specificities, the way she continually reaches through actual occurrence to brush the essence with her fingertips. But it’s not just incidents that happened to her, it’s information she has sought out and resonated with - going from a specific account of her own failed relationship to the optical experimentation of Newton in less than a page. Her work is ambitious but never clumsy, challenging but never difficult, emotional but not quite sappy...
Episode 1: David Whyte
David Whyte is an English poet deeply in touch with the subtle realities of his existence while still firmly grounded in the world where nature, work, and society intersect. This intersection is, for him, the essence - He is quoted as saying that all of his poetry and philosophy is based on "the conversational nature of reality". He is sensitive to the light and the darkness - to the soaring voice of inspiration and to the doubtful whisper the heart holds close…