It’s National Poetry Month! In a collaboration with Colgate University, Writing for Peace, and Poets & Writers, the Earlville Opera House welcomes poet Sam Hamill on Tuesday, April 29th at 6:30 pm. This is a unique opportunity to spend time with one of the major poets and cultural forces of our time. Sam Hamill is the author of more than forty books, including fifteen volumes of original poetry, most recently Measured by Stone.
On Hamill’s poetry, Robert Tilendis said, “The English language being what it is, one is tempted to call in one’s complete arsenal of glowing adjectives to try to do justice to Hamill’s vision, while realizing that to do so would belie that vision. Perhaps best just to say that here is craft so completely assimilated that it no longer exists.”
Sam Hamill co-founded, and for thirty-two years was editor, at Copper Canyon Press, with a mission to advance poets and poetry as vital to language and living. Copper Canyon Press has a tradition of publishing extraordinary poetry from around the world to engage the imaginations and intellects of readers.
“If Hamill were an editor and publisher alone, he would be a significant presence. But he is also a renowned translator, having translated such classics as The Art of Writing: Lu chi’s Wen Fu, The Essential Chuang Tzu , The Essential Basho, as well as rich anthologies, Only Companion: Japanese Poems of Love & Longing , The Erotic Spirit, The Infinite Moment: Poems from Ancient Greek , and most recently Crossing the Yellow River: Three Hundred Poems from the Chinese.” Rebecca Seiferle
He also began the Poets Against War movement. The resulting site PoetsAgainstWar.net continues the tradition of socially engaged poetry and literature that stand as a voice against war, tyranny and oppression. Hamill has taught in prisons for fourteen years and has worked extensively with battered women and children.
Hamill has been awarded the Stanley Lindberg Lifetime Achievement Award for Editing and the Washington Poets Association Lifetime Achievement Award.
Join us for an evening with renowned poet Sam Hamill on April 29th! The evening starts with a reading, Writing for Peace at 6:30 pm, and then at 7:45 pm continues with An Intimate Discussion on the Practice of Poetry.
Seating is limited. Admission is free but donations are welcome. The Earlville Opera House is wheelchair-accessible with a ramp and a lift. For more information, or to reserve your seats, call 315-691-3550 or order online at www.earlvilleoperahouse.com. The Opera House is located at 18 East Main Street, in Earlville, NY.
More about Poets Against the War:
Mr. Hamill was invited to the White House by Laura Bush in 2003 for an evening celebrating American poetry on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, the president having just outlined his plans for shock and awe. Hamill declined the invitation and extended his own invitation to fellow poets to speak for the conscience of our country.
Led by poet Sam Hamill, February 12, 2003 became a day of Poetry Against the War conducted as a reading at the White House gates in addition to over 160 public readings in many different countries and almost all of the 50 states. Since then, over 9,000 poets have joined this grassroots peace movement by submitting poems and statements to www.poetsagainstthewar.org , registering their opposition to the Bush administration’s headlong plunge toward war in Iraq.
Excerpt from Sam Hamill interview with Anne Marie Cusac in the Progressive just a couple of months after the movement started in April 2003:
Progressive: “Why did your call for a new Poets Against the War movement elicit such support?”
Sam Hamill: “It was almost as if they were waiting breathlessly for someone to step forward and say, “Enough is enough.” We became a chorus. Last week, the poems were coming in at one per minute. We have twenty-five editors downloading and formatting poems. We’re well over 11,000 poems already, and we’ll publish an anthology of probably about 225 pages of theoretically the best.”
Progressive: “Who inspired you to do this?”
Hamill: “The spirit of Denise Levertov, and listening to Galway Kinnell and Philip Levine and Etheridge Knight and June Jordan during the 1960s. That made me decide when I received the invitation to the White House that I simply couldn’t just say no thank you and pretend that it was OK.
“Poets should speak out against what we see as the assault against our Constitution and the warmongering that’s going on. I’m perfectly willing to lay down my life for my Constitution, but I am not willing to take a life for it or any other reason because I think killing people is counterproductive.”
Here’s a poem Hamill wrote for Denise Levertov mentioned by Hamill above:
Little Epic Elegy (1998)
for Denise Levertov (1923-1997)
She is gone who brought
us closer to what we are,
who brought us a world—
a passion for the garden,
a heaven of moons and stars.
And now she attends
our days with the salts of truth
and all the honeys
of conviction. Her vision
returns us into a world
of mystery, awe,
all compassion and delight,
to joy in the work
of being fully human,
always picking up the torch,
passing on the light.