“The Poet is In” Returns Under the Arch Today (Sunday) 4 p.m. — Reading Work by Nobel-Prize Winning Poet Wislawa Szymborska

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the advent of “The Poet is In” — the brainchild of New York State Poet Laureate Marie Howehappening weekly on Sundays under the Arch. Last Sunday, I attended as the poetry of Langston Hughes was being read and it was really wonderful. Great vibe, so nice to listen to poems, each one read by a different participant done in Occupy Wall Street-style with “mic check” and everything. This Sunday, the weekly event moves to 4 p.m. (from 5) and Sundays going forward (until further notice). Photos from last week follow (you’ll notice park regular pianist Colin Huggins and his piano in the background as he took a break while the readings transpired).

Marie Howe and James Lecesne Under the Arch

Elizabeth Ziff (also of the band, Betty)

James Lecesne

And here, a kid tries to climb the Arch!

This is an excerpt from a piece by Wislawa Symborska when she won the Nobel Prize in 1996:

The world — whatever we might think when we’re terrified by its vastness and our own impotence or when we’re embittered by its indifference to individual suffering, of people, of animals, and perhaps even plants (for why are we so sure that plants feel no pain?); whatever we might think of its expanses pierced by the rays of stars surrounded by planets we’ve just begun to discover, planets already dead, still dead, we just don’t know; whatever we might think of this measureless theater to which we’ve got reserved tickets, but tickets whose life span is laughably short, bounded as it is by two arbitrary dates; whatever else we might think of this world — it is astonishing.                     …

Granted, in daily speech, where we don’t stop to consider every word, we all use phrases such as “the ordinary world,” “ordinary life,” “the ordinary course of events.” But in the language of poetry, where every word is weighted, nothing is usual or normal. Not a single stone and not a single cloud above it. Not a single day and not a single night after it. And above all, not a single existence, not anyone’s existence in the world.

It looks as though poets will always have their work cut out for them.

Wislawa Szymborska, Dec. 7, 1996 Stockholm, The Poet and the World Nobel Lecture 1996

Photos: Cathryn

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