Listen: Poetry Out Loud

Documentary on Southwestern Minnesota tour of ‘Minnesota Poetry Out Loud’ - a week-long caravan of Minnesota poets operating out of Camden State Park, south of Marshall, giving formal and informal readings at the end of July 1974.

Audio contains interviews and readings from various Minnesota poets, including Caroline Vogel, Robert Bly, Cary Waterman, Al Salinas, John Calvin Rezmerski, Carol Bly, Bill Holm, Louis Jenkins, Chet Corey, and Charles Waterman.


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CAROLINE VOGEL: Well, we got this idea because we thought it was too bad that poetry was always a stuffy kind of academic subject. And also, I guess, it arose because we thought, why doesn't the public support the artist and come out for artistic performances and so forth. And then we began thinking, well, maybe it's because they really don't in particular what poets are up to. They always think of them as somebody that was alive in the 18th century, and there's nobody who's really up to much now.

And we thought it really is incumbent on the poet to bring his work and to bring his perspective to people outside of the schools who normally wouldn't get much sense of poetry. And John, I know, considers it a marvelous form of entertainment that people should realize there's a great deal of fun and celebration in it.

And I look on it that way, but I also think that poetry because it speaks of experience and of feelings, if you listen to a poem, the poet gives something. And whoever hears it, something is stimulated in them to remember a similar experience or a similar feeling or something. And then you share that in common. And you have a foundation for some kind of communication.

SPEAKER 1: That was Caroline Vogel of St. Paul, who along with John Rezmerski of St. Peter, helped coordinate the Southwestern Minnesota tour of Minnesota Poetry Out Loud. A caravan of Minnesota poets spent a week at the end of July giving informal and formal readings of their work.

Operating out of Camden State Park, south of Marshall, they read at beaches and in parks, on street corners, and in a convalescent center, among other places, and also held two formal poetry readings. The idea, underwritten by the Minnesota Arts Council, was to bring poetry to the people.

Poets in the Out Loud contingency besides Vogel and Rezmerski included Al Zolynas of Marshall, who has taught at Southwest Minnesota State College, Cary Waterman of Kasota, also a teacher in a Mankato Open School, and Lewis Jenkins of Duluth. Other Minnesota poets shared their works, but were not part of the caravan.

These included Chet Corey, a Worthington community college faculty member. Bill Holm, Minneota native now teaching at Hampton Institute in Virginia, and perhaps Minnesota's best known poet, Robert Bly of Madison.

The Minnesota Poetry Out Loud group journeyed to such places as Cottonwood, Minnesota, and Madison, as well as Marshall, where they met enthusiastic but small audiences. Robert Bly says the lack of numbers means only that people are not used to poetry readings.

ROBERT BLY: Maybe 50 or 100 years ago, we didn't have a poets except maybe Walt Whitman or Emily Dickinson who would write poems that were human enough, so to speak, to be received affectionately by people who were not specifically interested in poetry.

But that time has changed. And we have, in Minnesota alone, we must have 20 to 30 poets who are writing really marvelously alive poems that can be understood by anyone and liked by anyone, anyone who likes liveliness.

"Climbing up Mount Vision With My Little Boy." "We started up. All the way he held my hand. Sometimes he falls back to bend over a banana slug, then he feels how lonely the slug is, and he comes running back. He never complained, and we went straight up. What joy I feel in being with him! How much I love to feel his small, leafy hand curl around my finger. He holds on somehow, and we're flying through a cloud.

On top we hunker down beneath some bushes to get out of the wind, while the girls go off to play, and he tells me the story of the little boy who wouldn't cut off his hair and give it to a witch, and so she changed him into a hollow log!

And a boy and girl came along, and stepped on the log-- and the log said, Oww! And they stepped on it again, and along said, Oww! And they stepped on it again and log said, Oww! Then they looked inside and saw a boy's jacket sticking out. A little boy was in there! I can't come out. I've been changed into a hollow log. That's the end, he said.

I remembered a bit more-- the boy and girl went to a wise man-- he corrected me, it was a wise woman, daddy. And said, how can we get him changed it back again into a little boy? And she said, here's a pearl. If a crow asks you for it, give it to him. So they went along. And a crow came and said, can I have the buttons on your shirt? And the boy said, yes. And the crow took them all off.

Then he saw the pearl on the shirt pocket. Can I have that one too? Yes. Then the crow said, now we'll go to the witch's house. And the crow flew up and started to drop some moss down the chimney. And the chimney got full, and the witch started to cough. And he dropped in some more moss.

And she had to open the door and run outside! Then the crow took an oyster, a big one, from the Johnson Oyster Company, and he flew high in the air, and he dropped it right in the witch's head. And that was the end of her. And then the little boy was changed back again into a little boy.

The land on top is bare, sweeping, forbidding-- so unlike a little boy's mind. I asked him what he liked best about the whole walk. He said it was Bethany, an eight-year-old friend of Mary's, going pee pee in her pants while hiding."



SPEAKER 1: That was Robert Bly reading one of his poems. We recorded the formal reading which Bly hosted at the Madison Prairie Arts Center in Madison, Minnesota, August the 1st, featuring members of the Minnesota Poetry Out Loud caravan and other Minnesota poets.

SPEAKER 2: It's a kind of a wish fulfillment poem. For me, it's kind of the desire to be immortal. I guess, comes upon us from time to time. But it has problems. You can only be immortal, or you can only get the pleasure of being immortal if you run some sort of risk, I suppose. Anyway, it's called "The Way He'd Like It."

"Let me be the man who

walking among tall trees

is struck by lightning,

But is not killed;

who somersaults in a cloud

Fizzing with burnt hair

and lands on his feet, shoes smoking,

and shakes his head, saying, Jesus, that's smarts!

Let me be the man

hit by the last ash

of a dissolving meteorite.

Let it light on my head

like a benediction.

Let me be the man who walks

away from shipwrecks.

In a leveled city,

let me be the man found

17 days later under a former

insurance building, sucking

air through the plumbing, saying,

I never really thought of giving up.

From all disasters let me rise

wholly. On my face

let me have beautiful dueling scars.


SPEAKER 1: Al Zolynas of Marshall.

AL ZOLYNAS: When I first came to Minnesota, we lived in a farmhouse, and I'd been used to living by the ocean. And I missed the ocean. One day I was sitting out by the grove and the wind going through the trees reminded me of the ocean. It's called "The Pacific Slides Up The Beach Of The West Coast."

"You can hear it in these treetops

sheltering a farmhouse

in the middle of Minnesota.

You can hear the whale-song

in the bellow of the cows, beyond the corn

and the crickets in the grass.

The swallow-rays dive and pivot

on air currents

and swim smoothly about the barn.

You know that if you dig straight down

you'll find a bright, twisted shell and

you only have to pull out the earth-plug

to hear the sea there too.

As you walk back into the house,

you finger the side of your neck searching for gill-slits and you know

someday there will be a larger tide

than usual and things will get back to normal.

SPEAKER 1: Cary Waterman wrote this poem after moving into the countryside near Mankato.

CARY WATERMAN: This is a poem called "Domestication."

"Tonight, a voice rises like an arrow from the woods,

half female, half something else.

An owl maybe with a furred body pierced

on the short forked fingers.

Inside the kitchen,

My cat, who is female, turns from her instinct to prowl

and keeps within the secure circle of the light.

And so do I.

Outside, the dark buzzes headfirst at the window wanting to come in."


I'm interested in the way people relate to language. I think we've in through education and other things gotten away from being really conscious about our relationship to our language. And it is so important. I see all kinds of implications as far as politics and things like that are concerned, what people will put up with as far as abuses of language, or just a kind of a nonawareness of how they use language, what it's for, what can be done with it. It's not considered enough, I suppose.

I'm not a native Minnesotan. I grew up on the East Coast, and we had hurricanes, which I found a lot more tolerable than tornadoes. I'm scared to death of tornadoes. I've never seen one, and I've never heard one, but I'm really frightened of them. And we've been having a lot of bad storms around Mankato this spring and summer.

And I think my kids have picked up on my fear, especially of wind. And this is a poem, a very recent poem that I wrote just a few weeks ago after a bad windstorm. It's about some other things too. It's called "Talking To The Wind."

"We are stuck like snails to the concrete bridge waiting for the storm to end.

We are safest here

where Shanaska Creek slides under the road

and over our feet like warm fingers.

But my children still worry.

They chatter like blackbirds,

pushing away the wind with words,

they wrap themselves in language like a fur sleeve.

And then comes the storm of questions.

They want to know, where does the wind come from?

And how can you tell the Earth is really round?

Am I glad Minnesota does not have as many tornadoes as Iowa.

And if God wanted to, could he fly?

Could he make himself into a circle?

I answer them, tossing out my words to the circling wind,

and the mad curls of clouds I see coming from the west.

When the wind gives up,

we run out yelling our answers into buckets of rain."


SPEAKER 1: That was Cary Waterman of Kasota. John Rezmirsky, one of the coordinators of the Minnesota Poetry Out Loud readings in Southwestern Minnesota, got his inspiration for this next poem at Birch Coulee, the site of a battle during the 1862 Sioux uprising.

JOHN REZMERSKI: Writing near there one time. There's a park there now. We were going there for a picnic, and the National Guard was going by this long convoy on their way to summer camp.

"Along the road near Morton, I passed the National Guard, jeeps, trucks, armored cars. Taken by a silly notion, I imagine I'm leading them like General Sibley, down the road to Birch Coulee. The stink of fly blown meat drifts from behind trees, a brown cloud in the sunlight.

Down by the picnic tables and lower parking lot, 60 men and 90 horses lost. My children running on the little wooden bridge yelling things I can't understand do not smell anything evil here. They're too young for history. The National Guard delights them. They've never seen so much sameness. I watch them roll on the grass without knowing what it feeds on."


This is about watching Tarzan on TV one night. I just turned on the TV, and there's a Tarzan movie on. And it's the new Tarzan. it's not the old me, Tarzan, you Jane business anymore. Now he knows how to disarm a bomb and fix a shortwave radio and shoot down a helicopter and all of these marvelous things.

And I thought that maybe it'd be kind of interesting to put Tarzan in a sort of a completely modern city setting sort of. And at the same time, get at some of the whole underlying racism of the Tarzan myth, which is all about how this white guy because he's the son of an English Lord gets dropped in a jungle as a baby and grows up to be boss of the jungle because he knows how to do everything better than all of those people who have been dealing with it for hundreds of years.

In the Tarzan books, Tarzan's real name is Lord Greystoke.

"Lord Greystoke caught the 415 elephant home from the counting house at Old Park after a short workout with his daily crocodile. At the corner of Branch and Vine he paid exact fare, peanuts in those days, took a deep breath of monkeY-smelling air, went up to his high rise tree house, found a coconut of Martinis, had one, had another, changed into his casual loincloth. Read the paper, asked Jane what's for dinner.

She'd lost her poultry scissors, so they'd have to go out into the village. Dinner out for a change, maybe dancing. Off they go to the Congo Club. Had to sit next to a bunch of, you know, Negroes. This world's gone to hell by Jesus. The next thing you know they'll be moving in right out into treetops right next door. There ought to be a lot of jungle.

I know what I'm going to do, he told Jane. Give me a big lion. Yes, sir. Keep it right upfront. Put up a scarecrow too. Show these superstitious jigaboos not to get ideas. One of them bucks ever lays a hand on you, Jane, he'll have to answer to Tarzan personally. Aaaarggh!

King of the apes! Lord of the jungle! And don't you forget it. Me, Tarzan. You, waiter. Bring me another drink, Sambo. I feel powerful thirsty, boy. Powerful! And everybody in the place was staring at him because he was half naked, you know, and spoke with a godawful gorilla accent."


Somebody from Madison read one.

SPEAKER 1: From John Rezmerski of Saint Peter to Carol Bly of Madison.

CAROL BLY: These are not just pig poems. These are Emil Vonder Haar pig poems. For three years in a row, I went over and helped on the Emil and Marge Vonder Haar farm when they went and went on holidays. And each time I went over, I wrote a bad poem. And I've just got two of those. So they're--


CAROL BLY: Right. I know but nobody called on me, so I just sat there. So these are dedicated to Marge and to Emil. And they're called "Doing Chores On The Neighbor's Farm," is the first one.

"How wonderful to go to the neighbor's farm when they're not there. Now the grass lies down under the wind, and the grass thinks I am the owner. And there's no sound but the wind and the pig feeders clanging and banging as the pigs snuffle their noses in. When I check the pigs, they come running up, and it is all the same as 100 years ago.

When I go into the dark barn to feed the steers, they lay their cheeks down to eat in the beautiful grain. And through the windows, the pig feeders clank the weapons of a foreign army on the beach, weapons of thousands being stacked. But the weapons are archaic, and the soldiers are the same as 100 years ago.

I check the fence box on the dark barn wall. It's one eye glares steadily, an ancient unfriendly god. But the other eye, blinks and blinks and blinks and blinks. And it sends its spasms of pain around the entire farm."


This is a very short one. This is the shortest pig poem ever written in Lac qui Parle County County. It's called "Slapping The Pigs At Emil Vonder Haar's Farm."

"When I go to slop the pigs,

they come running up.

Candy, cigarettes, their eyes ask?

Whiskey, their eyes ask?

Peace on Earth to men."


BILL HOLM: "Once more in the pig poem with full histrionics.

I have lain in the mud all day, softening the bristles on my back,

combing my ears on the much elder tree

till they stand up straight and pink.

Now I am going into the darkness to prepare for love."


Now an epic here about Dachshunds. Yeah, this is for my dogs who have long noses and are very low to the ground. So I think it was Freud who said that human beings began losing their sense of smell when they stopped going on all fours and that was some sort of deficiency in their character. Well, Dachshunds can still read the messages in the grass. So this is from my dogs.

"How glorious in the moonlight to rummage through shadowy grass with my nose.

Perhaps to night a message from my lover."


Well, I write about pigs, chickens, about growing up on a farm in Western Minnesota and about the beauties of Western Minnesota, whatever they might be. The strange kind of life on the prairies and the strange things it does to the human personality.

[? SPEAKER 1: ?] What do you think this Poetry Out Loud can do as far as stimulating people's interest in poetry?

BILL HOLM: I think it's the best damn thing that's happened in a long time. A good many. This part of Minnesota was settled by Norwegian and Belgian and Icelandic immigrants who came over on boat 7,500 years ago with very few possessions.

But among the treasured possessions of almost all of them were books. And among those books were very frequently, at least among the Scandinavians, poetry. In Minnesota. When I was a kid, I was turned on to poetry, and I developed an interest in writing poetry by knowing old Icelanders who had never been to school A day in their life but who had houses full of books of poetry in Icelandic and in English and in German and Norwegian.

And who would after they got drunk read and declaim poetry and loved it. And regarded it not as a cultural sledgehammer to be used to establish your academic excellence, but rather as an organic part of your life to be used while you were farming, or while you were cleaning your pig house, or while you were carpentering, or while you were having a drink with your neighbor, or while you were doing something else.

So I grew up regarding poetry in this way. And I think the Poetry Out Loud program is, in a way, an effort toward reviving that sense of poetry as an organic part of life that can be used in the small towns and in the out of the way places for people to enjoy.

SPEAKER 1: That's Bill Holm, Minnesota native, now teaching at Hampton Institute in Virginia.

BILL HOLM: Well, as an Icelander who teaches in a Black school, I'm grateful for the fact that people are different, that they look different, that they dress differently, that they listen to different music, that they eat different foods. that they speak different languages, that they speak with different accents.

Because it would be a damned boring sort of country. And it is in fact a damn boring sort of country in the suburbs and in the places where people have been absolutely homogenized into a kind of melting pot-ish rigidity. I think ethnic differences are a thing that people ought to preserve with pride and with dignity and with a good sense of humor so that they can enjoy their own ethnic past and also enjoy what people of other ethnic pasts have got to offer.

This is part of a little series of poems about wandering around Western Minnesota finding Icelandic artifacts. And one Icelandic artifact around Minnesota is a beautiful old round barn, which is absolutely round and has a dome like a cathedral dome. And it's in danger of being torn down, but it was on one of the oldest Icelandic farms in the county. So I was out there one night, and this happened.

"We go to an old round barn by the river, a woman and I.

The barn is full of the smell of old hay.

Wind whistles through the missing shingles in the high dome.

The iron stalls are empty now.

You can still see the footprints of hooves on the black dirt

made years ago by cattle, long since dead and eaten.

She takes down from a nail an old horse harness,

the leather dried and cracked.

From Iceland, she says, and caresses it.

We go into the empty hayloft, 50 feet high, shaped like a cathedral dome.

The last sunlight is blown into the holes in the dome by prairie winds

and makes the floor shine like a polished ballroom.

I walk under the dome, open my mouth and sing

an old Italian song about the lips of Lola, the color of cherries.

The sound rolls around the dome and magnifies like an echo chamber.

When it comes back to me it is transformed into the neighing of horses.

My mane suddenly falls around my shoulders."

One more quickie here about the Icelanders. In Lincoln county, which is just south of here, there's a marvelous old Icelandic cemetery. And I had gone out there with this woman who was from Iceland and whose name was Gudmundsson, which is not a terribly common name in Iceland. And she looked around the cemetery, and it was about 3/4 full of Gudmundsson's. And she had some peculiar feelings about that.

"A woman and I are in an old Icelandic graveyard

on a windy, treeless Hill in Western Minnesota.

She has never been here.

She sees her own name on every tombstone.

Sometimes she died an old lady

surrounded by children and grandchildren and great grandchildren

like the petals around the center of a flower.

Sometimes she died a child who could barely speak

without the water of God on his hairless head.

Sometimes her name is spelled right and sometimes not.

It is a good thing to have died so many times,

to feel so often the death shudder in the bones

so that now the muscles are practiced at it,

And it can be done with the graceful, delicate movements of a dancer.


And the last two liners for Daren Gislason's great grandmother. He's got two pictures on the wall of these two old Icelanders who look like they're about ready to eat you. They were not people to be messed with. So this is--

Great, great grandmother. Gislason looks out fiercely

from under her Icelandic Bonnet like an owl

who has just discovered she is a mathematical prodigy.

On the other wall is grandfather Gislason, who looks a little sadder.

Great, great grandfather. Gislason points toward the Earth with his whole body,

his long white beard like a sad Old Testament prophets who no longer believes in God

seems made of lead, not hair.

The farmer's shoulders, the great heavy nose droop.

He has accepted the unfairness of the universe with good humor.

He lives with great, great grandmother Gislason.



SPEAKER 1: Poems by Bill Holm steeped in ethnicity, which is certainly of paramount importance to Minnesota poetic tradition. And now we turn to the work of Louis Jenkins, which has been described by some as prose poetry, a rather paradoxical term.

LOUIS JENKINS: This is basketball. This is written about Kansas, but it could be Minnesota maybe. "A huge summer afternoon with no sign of rain. The elm trees in the farmyard bend and creak in the wind. The leaves are dry and gray. In the driveway, a boy shoots a basketball at a goal above the garage door. The wind makes shooting difficult, and time after time, he chases the loose ball.

He shoots, rebounds, turns, shoots on into the afternoon. In the silence between the gusts of wind, the only sounds are the thump of the ball on the ground and the rattle of the bare steel rim of the goal. The gate bangs in the wind. The dog in the yard yawns and stretches and goes back to sleep. A film of dust covers the water in the trough. Great clouds of dust rise from open fields that stretch 1,000 miles beyond the horizon."


"The Plagiarist." "A fat teaching assistant, has caught a freshman cheating on his exam, and she stands now in the hallway displaying the evidence, telling the story to her colleagues. I could tell by the way he looked. I could tell by his hands. With each detail, the story expands. Rooms are added, hallways, chandeliers, flights of stairs, and she sinks exhausted against a railing.

More listeners arrive and she begins again. She seems thinner now, lighter. She rises, turns. She seems almost to be dancing. She clutches the paper of the wretched student. He holds her firmly, gently, as they turn and turn across the marble floor. The lords and ladies fall back to watch as they move toward the balcony in the summer night. Below in the courtyard soldiers assemble their brass and steel shining in the moonlight."


SPEAKER 1: Louis Jenkins of Duluth reading his own work. Chet Corey teaches at the Worthington Community College in Worthington. His poetry reflects his urban upbringing and also a deep feeling for the rural community he has come to call his home over the past few years.

CHET COREY: These are kind of landscape poems. This first one is called "Crossing Minnesota By Night." I discovered that you can drive across Minnesota and the flatland. And you can-- as you lose sight of the grain elevator in the rear view mirror, you can see the grain elevator in the next town that you're getting to.

And so you're never-- you don't feel too insecure as long as that great grain symbol is there. But that was part of this poem, I guess. And I was actually living by a railroad track when I wrote this. "Crossing Minnesota By night." It's in four parts.

"Slap houses, a grain elevator, and trees move in the opened eyes of freight cars that pass were siding warps and blue snow. A switchman has left his warm car. Its light dimmed for flashlight and arm to direct a lack of traffic. I have walked along steel rails out of grain elevator shadow into bright snow tracking life that fills the drifted ditch. When hills are bare trees and steeples arise, ancient swords thrust into dark Earth. I have counted the miles between small southwestern towns by the reappearance of grain elevators."

This is another poem about driving along the landscape by where I live. It's called "Dream Sleepers." Again, it's in three little parts here, but I won't break the parts. "Dream Sleepers" "Like beaver lodges on a bullhead lake blown free of snow, groves, the gray of clouds and the last corner of sky at sunset enclosed farmsteads. The distant water tower grows cold high above the shingled town. A grain elevator awaits the next freight to Sioux city, as though a woman unfulfilled.

Crossing streets against traffic, young mothers carry children from the clinic. Crib blankets are draped over their moist heads like shawls over shoulderless old women. They are deep snowdrifts in which children sleep the dream of grass.


This Poem is called "A Momentary Distraction From Things To Come." I grew up in Minneapolis and used to commute in there once in a while. And since I've left it, I've seen different things. But yet, a part of me is still in the city and part of me in the country. And this poem comes out of all of that, I guess. "A Momentary Distraction From Things To Come."

"Like leaves fallen after a heavy rain, a dead bird's wings flattened to the surface. Its feathers will dry, lift within three days and disappear. The quills as clear as plastic straw and as strong as toenail will think the trip ill conceived consider such leave taking under adverse circumstance a severance from a life that soared for one blown to the road's edge.

I understand relinquishment, having returned rich soil to the garden, inadvertently adhered to the arch of my shoe run over at heel and counter, good only for a final season of planting azaleas. Occasionally, tired frost heaves and haphazard lines seldom the scrutiny of its pockmarked face attract the attention of these travelers whose conversations inevitably turn toward commentaries upon taxation, monologues as tiresome as the drone of semi-trailers.

Such are the constants that anger and engage sleepers who commute miles along county roads toward a city awake in utter disgust over the disappearance of spring. Disdain is their sustenance, and aging loves their passage through throngs of people they dare not touch. Only the grackles and starlings will gather the corn from jostled wagons aglow with harvest. So celebrate the muted ear and mottled road we have commuted in a sentence monotonous."


SPEAKER 1: Chet Corey of Worthington. Also sharing a poem was Charles Waterman, whose wife Cary you heard earlier.

CHARLES WATERMAN: It's called "Envying The Rich." "A long while ago, I thought about a poor man, a sheepherder maybe with a very tiny flock and perhaps a young son-- a common image of the simple and especially real life, something I would like to try on paper, anyway.

The man's hat and the boy's hat were no doubt prized possessions. The sun glaring under a frayed brim always making circles in and on the eyes. Vision a matter of seeing under and through and up and out. The boy's laughing and the man's laughing would be as private as fleas in their coats of sheepskin sewn in the coarsest patience when it was cold.

When they were hungry, through forbearance some of the sheep and lambs would have to be sold so that their route of hunger could be traced over and over through the years-- a matter of economics, sore feet, and love across the Earth that mothered them to death."


CAROLINE VOGEL: There are lots of people who think why not have a poet on the county role to provide services at the 4th of July celebrations down at the local riverfront or something. And that's not-- it's not something that really is so silly. That's the function that poets served centuries ago. They really did.

They were the people who provided the words for celebrations, and they were the ritual risers. And they were as much people to be talked to as the clergy and anyone else who was supposed to be of sensitive mind and concerned about probing human experience and the problems of it and the great joys and the sorrows and everything else.

And I think we need that now in, in this country. It seems to me we've realized that our technology and so many of the rhythms and rituals that we have adapted can be very sterile and very empty unless they're reinvested with energy. And after all, energy comes from people communicating and interacting with each other. And that happens with words, for one thing.

This poem is called "The bookmark," and it's about an experience I really had. So every time I read it, it kind of gives me a chill because I don't feel I have any control over it. "One day he came as usual after work like a scared little animal skirting a riverbank searching for some way across into the evening. And when he found my door at the top of the stairs locked and my apartment dark and quiet inside, he left a small gold square of torn paper stuck in the crack.

It said, I was here. He had signed his name, and he had spelled it wrong, left out an R. Well, for me, an R is an unforgettable letter, strong like an A or an M. It even has color, wild and living like red or green. I picked the paper up and shoved it in a book. I never saw him again after that. But I see the little gold square all the time. It's moving through my books. I open a volume of poems, and there it is, I was here. And each time the missing R seems to leave a larger, darker hole." Yeah.


SPEAKER 1: Caroline Vogel of St. Paul, one of the coordinators along with John Rezmerski of Saint Peter of the South Western tour of Minnesota. Poetry Out Loud. The Minnesota Arts Council sponsored these informal and formal readings not only in southwestern Minnesota but also in Southeastern and Northwestern Minnesota, featuring two other groups of Minnesota poets.

Whether or not poetry readings will draw great numbers of people in, say, 10 years is pure conjecture. Robert Bly feels that this country may see the day when poetry readings attract large audiences.

ROBERT BLY: And so I don't see any problem at all in audiences for poetry readings. So as you have more poetry readings, more people will come, I think. In Russia, for example, they have a strong tradition of poetry readings allowed and always have. And they have thousands of their readings.

SPEAKER 3: So you think it might get to that point?

ROBERT BLY: Well, I would hope so in a matter of 10 years or so. You can't listen to the garbage on TV forever.


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