Poetry in Difficult Times

Friday, September 09, 2011

Marie Ponsot, author of six volumes of poetry, discusses how poetry can help us through difficult times. She reads from her work. Her latest volume of poetry is Easy.


Marie Ponsot

Comments [7]

Thankfully from Westchester

There's nothing cold about Ms. Ponsot as a person or poet. As a student who became her friend (as many of us do), I can vouch for her deep empathy and generous, stronv support on a personal level. Remember that American poetry (like every part if our culturr) has been effected by our preoccupation with psychotherapy. One of the results is confessional poetry which has the self as subject. Are those poems helpful to poet and reader in difficult times? I think not. They seem to have a destructive effect on the poets who write them and lend an aura of defeat to readers, if not actually teaching them an enjoyment of dark depression.

For a lyric poet to survive an atmosphere, she must be tough enough tonrefuse to indulge self-pity and focus on the objects of praise--a tradition that dates back to the earliest lyric poet Sappho. Like her, Ponsot celebrates persons and things outside her own head. She discouraged her students from indulging in their person emotional response to horror because that is not poetry and doesn't lead to poetry. It takes real discilpine to rescue beauty and goodness from ruin and wreakage.

Sep. 24 2012 04:57 AM
Marylisa Simpson from Fairfield, CT

How wonderful to hear your beautiful voice Ms. Ponsot today. You are still a strong inspiration to poets and non poets in good and troubling times. You were my college poetry teacher over 30 years ago at QC. You onced brought in a bag of autumn apples to celebrate your grandchild and then you said...lets get back to work.

Sep. 09 2011 02:10 PM
Sophie from Poughkeepsie, NY

@Alex from NYC

I'm with you on that!

Sep. 09 2011 01:59 PM
Sophie from Poughkeepsie, NY

Funny. The poet does not do literal too well!

Sep. 09 2011 01:58 PM
Alex from NYC

Yes, and a cold teacher. The work itself is cold and oddly verbally disconnected. Brilliance alone is not enough to make a poet great.

Sep. 09 2011 01:57 PM
Sam Leopold from Rockland, NY

Ms ponsot,
"The poem comes before the subject."
As a topical song writer this idea scares me, as you might imagine, but is intriguing nonetheless.

Sep. 09 2011 01:54 PM
Sophie from Poughkeepsie, NY

Really? Get back to work? How disconnected from a present disaster.

Tough crowd. Tough teacher.

Sep. 09 2011 01:49 PM

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