Poetry world series at Armory January 18, 2011


Monday, January 17, 2011

Doug holder,

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.

by Peta Jinnath Andersen

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 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 happens.”

Source: Doug Holder









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