Monday, January 14, 2008

Poetry in Motion

Audio books are the greatest, aren't they? As I was meandering through my housework on Sunday, I listened to Billie Collins Live at Symphony Space. Did you know some poets are as funny as the best stand-up comedian? Collins' poetry (he's pictured at right) is witty, tender, accessible, and moving. If you are not sure that poetry is your cup of tea, I think his work can change your mind. He's responsible for the Poetry 180 Project: a poem a day for American high schools and was the United States Poet Laureate for two years.
After laughing with the symphony space audience for an hour or so, I put on our somewhat native son's two disc set Eat stone and go on : the recorded poetry of Richard Hugo. Hugo (1923-1982), who taught for many years in the English Department at the University of Montana, published eight books of poetry. And listening to him reading those poems is nothing short of heavenly. Be warned that the sound quality is not great (they were recorded over 25 years ago, after all) but one can't help being moved by that deeply satisfying voice reciting what is my favorite of his poems: "Degrees of Grey in Philipsburg."

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