world series at Armory January 18, 2011
Monday, January 17, 2011
Poetry world series at Armory Jan. 18
On January 17, 2011, in Latest News, by The News Staff
Ifeanyi Menkiti is a featured poet at the First and Last
Poetry World Series to be held at Somerville's Center for
the Arts at the Armory on Tuesday, Jan. 18.
Even over the phone, it’s clear that Ifeanyi Menkiti is a
poet. Later this month, the Nigerian-born philosophy
professor and book shop owner will be joining two other
local poets, Doug Holder and Lloyd Schwartz, to read as part
of a new poetry series.
Hosted by Harris Gardner and Gloria Mindock, also poets, the
First and Last Poetry Series will be held at Somerville’s
Center for the Arts at the Armory on Tuesday, Jan. 18.
Asked what it’s like reading
in a series, Menkiti says, “It’s a give and take but usually
you have a set of poems you want to read then you start and
then some people might want you to read some poems of yours
that they’re familiar with.”
Born in Onesha in eastern Nigeria, Menkiti moved to the US
to study at Pomona College, a liberal arts school in
California; after a small detour at Columbia’s journalism
school, he earned a masters in philosophy at New York
University. Since then, he has published four collections:
Affirmations (1971), The Jubilation of Falling Bodies
(1978), Of Altair, the Bright Light (2005) and Before a
Common Soil (2007). His poetry has also been featured on
National Public Radio, in several literary journals, and
some New York City public schools in association with
Academy of American Poets.
“There’s something that I think happens with poetry where it
kind of brings us home to things that are important,” says
Menkiti. “There’s the mood that it sets, the observations on
life or running commentary on individual and collective
lives. It differs–there are so many different kinds of
poetry but I think it tends to bring the spirit back home.”
“It’s really hard to designate [poetry],” he adds, “it’s not
like having a recipe for cooking this and cooking that, you
know, but when a poem is well-made, you can tell, you know?”
Rescuing the Grolier Poetry Book Shop from bankruptcy in
2006, Menkiti believes not just in poetry, but in the
importance of a “physical space.”
“People can get their books on Amazon.com and they can also
read a lot of things online or go to the library but the
thing with the Grolier and some [others]…like City Lights in
San Francisco–is that these are concrete specific places
where people can come and gather. So poetry I think really…
it does what it’s supposed to do when you have a place where
people can gather, hear the reading, talk to the poet,
discuss things, and hear their own wordplay, [in] the
physical space itself,” he says.
Founded in 1927 by Adrian Gambet and Gordon Cairnie, the
Grolier has welcomed many well-known poets, including e.e.
cummings, T.S. Eliot, and Allen Ginsberg. Today, the
Grolier–and Menkiti–continue to foster a sense of community.
Are poetry series also important? “Yes, yes, absolutely,
yes,” says Menkiti.
“There’s kind of a saying in yibo land, the part of Africa
where I was born… you can have [a] wonderful meal in the
privacy of your room, but when people get together and share
together, there’s something very, very nice about that,
too…[it may be] a wonderful fabulous meal, but when it’s a
feast of kinsmen, community, friends, something else
Source: Doug Holder