A slim volume of poetry was published in 1798; it was Lyrical Ballads, by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The formal language of verse was gone; the subject matter changed. The effect was similar to when punk rock burst on the rock scene in the 20th century. No more gods, nymphs, or royalty; beggars, the mad, wretches, and convicts peopled Romantic poetry. Revolution was in the air, with the recent overthrow of the monarchy in France and the establishment of Swiss and Italian republics. Coleridge wrote so enthusiastically about the onset of liberty in France and elsewhere the authorities took notice, and he was watched for many years by officers of the state. Radical personal lives and politics gave their words power not seen in previous formalistic poetry. This first generation grew more conservative as they grew older, especially Wordsworth; in 1810, he and Coleridge had a falling out. A second generation of Romantic poets were beginning to write, more radical in their outlook and writings.
Are you inspired by life, whether light or dark, to mark moments or passages with words that dance, shout, or whisper your personal truth? You might be poemcrazy. Author (and poet) Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge certainly is. In her book, she shares how she sees the world as a poet as she’s progressed from shy teen to mother to writing workshop presenter.
"I was unhappy for a long time, and very lonesome, living with my grandmother. Then it was that books began to happen to me, and I began to believe in nothing but books and the wonderful world in books — where if people suffered, they suffered in beautiful language, not in monosyllables, as we did in Kansas." (From The Big Sea, one of Hughes’ autobiographies)
February’s guest reader is Daisy Howard-Douglas, an educator, author, storyteller, and community treasure. She spent years as a teacher in Richmond schools, but she always maintained a strong connection with her childhood. Raised in the island town of Morgan City, Louisiana—and truly raised by a village—"Miss Daisy" enjoys sharing stories that draw on her wonderful early years, surrounded and supported by people in different generations.
American counterculture hit the mainstream in the 1960s, but it had already been stewing for over a decade with the Beat generation. This group of novelists, poets, and playwrights pushed against the norms of Eisenhower's post-war optimism to reveal a different side to the nation.
Claudia Emerson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and English professor at the University of Mary Washington, will be inducted into the prestigious Fellowship of Southern Writers during its biennial meeting at the Conference on Southern Literature. Emerson won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for Late Wife. She has written five books of poetry, with a sixth forthcoming, and has won numerous other honors. We are fortunate that each April she has helped our library system by judging the Teen Poetry Contest and acting as presenter for Teen Poetry Night.