FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Poetry and the City of Ideas

by BARBARA LaMORTICELLA

On November 11, 2005 CounterPunch contributer BARBARA LaMORTICELLA was presented with the prestigious Holbrook Prize at the Oregon Book Awards. We reprint her acceptance remarks.–AC/JSC

I want to thank my old friend Robert Davies, a fine poet and editor, who is also a deeply ethical and community-minded teacher.

At San Francisco State College in the late 60s, people were still talking about a poet, recently released from jail, who had been invited to give a reading on campus at the same time the opening ceremony for an alumnae reunion was taking place. When he got off the streetcar, there was a large “Welcome” banner hanging, and he thought it was for him. Seeing a crowd already assembled, he rushed to the stage and took the microphone from the astounded MC. He struggled with the security guards, who tackled him and dragged him away for observation.

I have been an unpaid public servant in what Cavafy called the City of Ideas since 1975, when Marth Cohen called and asked me to edit the Portland Poetry Festival Anthology. His call came out of the blue. We didn’t know each other. But I had read at a couple of Festival open readings, and had sent a letter to the local underground paper, the Willamette Bridge, defending the art of poetry against a columnist’s charge that it is an elitist art. I lived in the country, had two young children at home, didn’t get to town much, never hung out there, and was glad to get an excuse and a chance to interact with other writers. One thing led to another.

As I stand before you I am reminded of the remarks of the labor leader who said, “If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” I would have tried to have a clearer idea of what I was about. Instead, I just developed the habit of saying yes when asked. So I stand before you tonight, a large banner hanging over the gate, and no security guards in sight.

I don’t have time to say thank you to all the people I would like to, nor list the many people I feel are worthy of this literary award. But I am especially grateful to the people who drew me into community radio: Jim Grabill, Doug Spangle, Walt Curtis, my co-host on Talking Earth, and Kathleen Stephenson. Portland is lucky to have a community radio station. Kathleen and all the others who work hard at KBOO to put the literary community into the community deserve special thanks from all of us. And I thank my husband Robert, for understanding, or trying to understand, my literary labors, and always encouraging them.

BARBARA LaMORTICELLA is a poet living in Portland, Oregon, and with Walt Curtis co-hosts a poetry program Monday nights at 10 PM on KBOO radio, 90.7 FM Portland. She can be reached at: barbala@teleport.com

 

 

Weekend Edition
April 29-31, 2016
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
Ulrich Heyden
Crimea as a Paradise for High-Class Tourism?
Ramzy Baroud
Did the Arabs Betray Palestine? – A Schism between the Ruling Classes and the Wider Society
Halyna Mokrushyna
The War on Ukrainian Scientists
Joseph Natoli
Who’s the Better Neoliberal?
Ron Jacobs
The Battle at Big Brown: Joe Allen’s The Package King
Wahid Azal
Class Struggle and Westoxication in Pahlavi Iran: a Review of the Iranian Series ‘Shahrzad’
David Crisp
After All These Years, Newspapers Still Needed
Graham Peebles
Hungry and Frightened: Famine in Ethiopia 2016
Robert Koehler
Opening the Closed Political Culture
Missy Comley Beattie
Waves of Nostalgia
Thomas Knapp
The Problem with Donald Trump’s Version of “America First”
Georgina Downs
Hillsborough and Beyond: Establishment Cover Ups, Lies & Corruption
Jeffrey St. Clair
Groove on the Tracks: the Magic Left Hand of Red Garland
Ben Debney
Kush Zombies: QELD’s Hat Tip to Old School Hip Hop
Charles R. Larson
Moby Dick on Steroids?
David Yearsley
Miles Davis: Ace of Baseness
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail