to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
Johnson. This week, a special poetry show:
some songs of famous poems by France's First Lady Carla Bruni ...
question about American poet Emily Dickinson …
And tell about Kay Ryan, who begins serving as poet laureate of the United States
United States has a new poet laureate, Kay Ryan. She will read some of her poetry Saturday at the National Book
Festival on the Mall in Washington, D.C.
Barbara Klein tells about the poet and her work.
did not know she could be a writer until she had a brief talk with the
universe. She was on a very long
bicycle trip, from the West Coast to the East, in nineteen seventy-six. Riding
through Colorado's Rocky Mountains, a question came to her: "Can I be a
writer?" Ryan said the universe
answered, also with a question: "Do you like it?"
yes, she liked it more than anything else.
A few years later, she and her friends self-published her first book of
poetry, "Dragon Acts to Dragon Ends."
generally writes short poems that have short lines. The poems look simple on
the page, and can be read simply, but they are complex in subject. They are often many things at once: funny,
sad, troubling or mysterious, frightening yet hopeful. And her poetry has a
wonderful playfulness with words. Kay Ryan says she likes to use rhyme in
poem, "Blandeur," is a good example.
She read it at the Library of Congress in two thousand one.
"If it please God,
let less happen.
Even out Earth's
the Grand Canyon.
to arable land,
halving or doubling
all geographical features
toward the mean.
Unlean against our hearts.
Withdraw your grandeur
from these parts."
was born in nineteen forty-five in Southern California. She grew up in small valley and desert
towns. She received both her bachelor's and master's degrees in English from
the University of California, Los Angeles.
She has taught English at the College of Marin in Kentfield, California,
for more than thirty years. She lives in
Marin County with Carol Adair, her partner of thirty years.
says she believes poetry is "the most secret, the most private form of
communication in language." She says
she does not believe it will ever lose value no matter how many, or how few,
readers it has.
has advice for those who want to write poetry: Read a lot. Not necessarily poetry. Read science, philosophy, newspapers, murder
mysteries and all kinds of things. And,
she says it is good to have a love of language.
has won many poetry prizes. She has
also been compared to American poet Emily Dickinson, but dismisses the
suggestion. Some of her favorite
American poets include William Carlos Williams and Robert Frost. Her international favorites include Polish
poet Wislawa Szymborska and Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa.
listener question this week comes from Yemen.
Sameer Taher Mahdi wants to know about what he calls the "strange life"
of Emily Dickinson.
Emily Dickinson was born in
eighteen thirty in the small Massachusetts town of Amherst. She lived and died
in the same house where she was born. She received a good education. She
studied philosophy, the Latin language, and the science of plants and rocks.
Emily's parents were important people in Amherst. Many famous
visitors came to their house, and Emily met them. Her father was a well-known
lawyer who was elected to Congress for one term.
Mister Dickinson believed that
women should be educated. But he also believed a woman's one and only duty in
life was to care for her husband and children. Emily once said: "He buys me
many books, but begs me not to read them, because he fears they upset the mind.
Emily Dickinson wrote more than
one thousand seven hundred poems. There are three books of her letters. And
there are many books about her life.
Some of her best poems were written between eighteen fifty-eight
and eighteen sixty-two. Here is one of
with Him -- I see his face --
I go no
Visitor -- or Sundown --
-- are well -- but Waking's better,
wake at Morn --
wake at Midnight better --
-- of the Dawn --
my letter to the World
never wrote to me --
simple News that Nature told --
Emily Dickinson did not believe in organized religion, religious music of the
time influenced the form of her poetry. She also used unusual words. She once wrote that the dictionary was her
best friend. The English writer William Shakespeare, the Christian holy book
the Bible and nature also influenced her work.
Dickinson's life was strange because the older she became the more she withdrew
from the world. By her early thirties,
she had stopped socializing almost completely.
Within several years, she would not even open her door to visitors. She
rarely left her house.
Dickinson died in eighteen eighty-six at the age of fifty-five. She had made her sister Lavinia promise to
burn all her writing but, luckily for us, that did not happen.
of Emily Dickinson's poems were published when she was alive. She gained no fame until years after her
death. Her complete works were
published in nineteen fifty-five. She
is now considered one of the world's great poets.
continue our poetry theme with an album of poems put to music. Italian-born
Carla Bruni is well known for her career as a model and her recent marriage to
French President Nicolas Sarkozy. But Miz Bruni also writes and sings music.
Her second album is called "No Promises."
It is her first album in English.
The album has musical versions of eleven poems by some of the most
important English and American poets of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Faith Lapidus plays three of these songs.
"Those Dancing Days Are Gone," written by the Irish poet William Butler
Yeats. It is a good example of Carla
Bruni's style. The singer says she sometimes felt guilty about repeating
sentences in Yeats' poem since the poet did not repeat them in his original
work. But she decided that Yeats would not have minded if she had sung the sung
was planning this album, Carla Bruni thought she would combine songs she wrote
with musical versions of these famous poems. But she said that the poetry
reaches such a level of perfection that she only kept the poems. Here is "Lady
Weeping at the Crossroads" by the poet W. H. Auden.
this album, Carla Bruni worked with her friend, British singer Marianne
Faithfull, to improve her voice and diction. Faithfull also shared her
knowledge of English and American poetry.We leave you with Carla Bruni's
version of Emily Dickinson's poem "I Felt My Life With Both My Hands."
Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
written by Dana Demange and Caty Weaver who was also the producer.
again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.