Friday, October 01, 2004

10th Dodge Poetry Festival

The long drive brought me here to one of the largest gatherings of poets
and poetry folk in these United States. The festival is held every two
years. This year is the first collaboration between the Dodge Foundation
and the Duke Foundation and it is being held at Duke Farms in
Hillsborough, NJ. There was a temporary sign on the road approaching the
farm that flashed: "poetry festival expect delays". This is a unique

I will elaborate further on the events of the festival but wanted to
share some quick highlights from Day 1.

Benjamin Bagby singing Beowulf in Olde English was quite a treat. He is
scheduled to do a longer section later in the festival.

Coleman Barks performing Emily Dickenson to the tune of "The Yellow Rose
of Texas", and then he went one better than that by doing one in the
manner of a shape note hymn.

Isn't this a poetry festival? What has singing to do with it? The spoken word has a sound. The combination of words/sounds can be crafted in one of the rhyming meters some of us dread. Yusef Komunyakaa demonstrated it can still be musical even if it isn't in a defined meter. He took a short step further and with the Susie Ibarra Trio backing him up performed several of his poems woven into the jazz sounds of the trio. Good stuff!

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