Launching the St. Johnsbury, Vermont, version of National Poetry Month today, Patrick Donnelly came from western Massachusetts to read from his three books and work in progress at St. Johnsbury Academy in the Fireside area at the library -- and the only empty seats were in the front row, with extra listeners
even leaning against walls and columns to absorb the conversation.
And conversation indeed it was, as the Smith College professor and director of the Poetry Conference at The Frost Place (in Franconia, NH) opened his life, his writing process, and the translated poetry that he and his spouse Stephen D. Miller continue to bring forth from the Japanese. Students and teachers asked questions that led deep into both writing and love of narrative, which this highly accessible poet shared generously.
One particular phrase that will stay with me, I know, was Donnelly's comment about the presence of opposing reactions within a single poem: "I tell my students," he said with a smile, "that ambivalence is the mother of poetry."
Looking for a signed book by this poet? We have one (click here; when it's gone, it's gone), or reward yourself by traveling to one of his readings or lectures and picking up the one that calls to you most vividly.