Barack Obama, Billy Collins, Rita Dove and poetry

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/all/modules/swftools/shared/flash_media_player/player5x2.swf

I love Barack Obama and Billy Collins. They are both here in this video showing the White House Evening of Poetry. Collins comes on last – around the 35th minute of this video.

Rita Dove is the first to read a poem after Obama gets out of the way. You can read here what he said.

Here’s one of the poems read by Rita Dove – Maple Valley Branch Library, 1967 – which she calls a “love poem to libraries”. Billy Collins read Forgetfulness followed by The Lanyard. Click on the links to read the poems.

I can’t resist quoting a bit of what Obama said, because it’s so true. He said:

The power of poetry is that everybody experiences it differently.  There are no rules for what makes a great poem.  Understanding it isn’t just about metaphor or meter.  Instead, a great poem is one that resonates with us, that challenges us and that teaches us something about ourselves and the world that we live in.  As Rita Dove says, “If [poetry] doesn’t affect you on some level that cannot be explained in words, then the poem hasn’t done its job.”  Also known as, it don’t mean a thing if — (laughter) — it ain’t got that swing.  That’s a little ad-lib there. (Laughter.)

For thousands of years, people have been drawn to poetry in a very personal way -– including me.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I actually submitted a couple of poems to my college literary magazine, and you will be pleased to know that I will not be reading them tonight.  (Laughter.)

Here’s a video showing Rita Dove reading Maple Valley Branch Library, 1967, at another event.

And here’s Billy Collins reading The Lanyard on another occasion.

Published by Abhijit

Abhijit loves reading and writing.

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