Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Please Support CounterPunch’s Annual Fund Drive
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We only ask you once a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Poetry and the City of Ideas

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

 

 

More articles by:
October 16, 2018
Gregory Elich
Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Diplomacy Survive Maximum Pressure?
Rob Seimetz
Talking About Death While In Decadence
Kent Paterson
Fifty Years of Mexican October
Robert Fantina
Trump, Iran and Sanctions
Greg Macdougall
Indigenous Suicide in Canada
Kenneth Surin
On Reading the Diaries of Tony Benn, Britain’s Greatest Labour Politician
Andrew Bacevich
Unsolicited Advice for an Undeclared Presidential Candidate: a Letter to Elizabeth Warren
Thomas Knapp
Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections
Muhammad Othman
Khashoggi and Demetracopoulos
Gerry Brown
Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics: How the US Weaponizes Them to Accuse  China of Debt Trap Diplomacy
Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker – Peter Lehman
The Brazilian Presidential Elections and “The Rules of The Game”
Robert Fisk
What a Forgotten Shipwreck in the Irish Sea Can Tell Us About Brexit
Martin Billheimer
Here Cochise Everywhere
David Swanson
Humanitarian Bombs
Dean Baker
The Federal Reserve is Not a Church
October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
Conn Hallinan
Syria’s Chessboard
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Atrocities in Yemen are a Worse Story Than the Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
Sheldon Richman
Trump’s Middle East Delusions Persist
Justin T. McPhee
Uberrima Fides? Witness K, East Timor and the Economy of Espionage
Tom Gill
Spain’s Left Turn?
Jeff Cohen
Few Democrats Offer Alternatives to War-Weary Voters
Dean Baker
Corporate Debt Scares
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Affair and and the Anti-Iran Axis
Russell Mokhiber
Sarah Chayes Calls on West Virginians to Write In No More Manchins
Clark T. Scott
Acclimated Behaviorisms
Kary Love
Evolution of Religion
Colin Todhunter
From GM Potatoes to Glyphosate: Regulatory Delinquency and Toxic Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
Evacuating Nauru: Médecins Sans Frontières and Australia’s Refugee Dilemma
Marvin Kitman
The Kitman Plan for Peace in the Middle East: Two Proposals
Weekend Edition
October 12, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
My History with Alexander Cockburn and The Financial Future of CounterPunch
Paul Street
For Popular Sovereignty, Beyond Absurdity
Nick Pemberton
The Colonial Pantsuit: What We Didn’t Want to Know About Africa
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Summer of No Return
Jeff Halper
Choices Made: From Zionist Settler Colonialism to Decolonization
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Incident: Trump’s Special Relationship With the Saudi Monarchy
Andrew Levine
Democrats: Boost, Knock, Enthuse
Barbara Kantz
The Deportation Crisis: Report From Long Island
Doug Johnson
Nate Silver and 538’s Measurable 3.5% Democratic Bias and the 2018 House Race
Gwen Carr
This Stops Today: Seeking Justice for My Son Eric Garner
Robert Hunziker
Peak Carbon Emissions By 2020, or Else!
Arshad Khan
Is There Hope on a World Warming at 1.5 Degrees Celsius?
David Rosen
Packing the Supreme Court in the 21stCentury
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Threats of Death and Destruction
Joel A. Harrison
The Case for a Non-Profit Single-Payer Healthcare System
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail