Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Lynn Levin and Bill Wunder read their poetry at Warminster Township Library

Took a trial run to the Warminster Library so I'd make the program on time.

Pointing to the Moon has a mind of its own, appearing in the left margin, begging to be read.

Nice turnout. The woman in the orange on the right wants to write poetry. She said her poems rhyme, which isn't terribly in fashion today like the older poetry of, say, Edward Arlington Robinson.  I told her to read some Walt Whitman to get inspired.

What a delightful evening it was. Live theatre.

Bought Bill's new book for $15. It's so important to buy books of people you know. It's good for them - imagine the hours they spent wrestling these poems into shape - and it's good for the reader, who thinks, Hey, I know this person. Let me see how they think.
This is Bill's second published book of poetry. The first Pointing to The Moon was about his year as a soldier in the Vietnam War.

He was a high school kid in Levittown who enlisted. "The book was very important to me," he said. "I wanted to tell the stories of the 50,000 guys who never came home."

Interestingly, he didn't begin writing poetry until he was 50.

He read Unappeasable, a eulogy to his high school buddy who was the first to enlist and the first to die.

I found the poem from a 2004 article in the Inquirer when he was named Bucks County Poet Laureate.

From Pointing at the Moon

Humid, jungle nights, I'd look up
through the break in dense canopy,
see innumerable stars painted on
a Pollock sky, and there on a throne sat Miller,
stoned again, pointing at the moon, a god in fatigues
teaching the platoon about Buddha's awakening.
Miller thought that if he aimed right,
and if the drugs were pure enough,
one night his finger would touch the moon.
He never counted on that booby-trap
blowing both his legs off, turning
the rice paddy around him a dull red.
It's gone now, all of it.
I heard that patch of jungle was cleared
to make room for a Coca-Cola factory.
Miller is just bones.

    In the Q & A after the readings, both Bill and Lynn said this was the best part of the reading. Answering questions.

I asked Bill if he ever returned to Vietnam and he said no. He has no desire to do so. Too many other places to see, like the 2000 Olympics in Australia.

The former soldier has become a gardener.  How healing it is to plant things and see them bloom in the spring.

Meet Shirley, soon to marry Bill Wunder. Her mom, she said, loved Shirley Temple.

Shirley has beautiful long brown hair that cascades down her back. I know. I sat behind her.

With his poems about the war behind him, Bill is writing about little moments of beauty.

Does anyone have a kitchen drawer filled with junk? he asked.

Here's mine. I just organized it a couple of months ago. Rubber bands, twisties, push pins, Band-Aids which are still in the drawer 30 yrs after my kids left home. 

In Bill's junk drawer, he keeps a necklace of his late mom. They did not get along. He held the necklace at arm's length, just as he held his mother.

Lynn Levin is such a warm and wonderful person. I'm hoping she'll give another poetry workshop at the Warminster Township Library.

Smiling Lisa, the new Adult Services Librarian, said, "I think I might be able to arrange that!"

I learned so much when Lynn taught us at the Huntingdon Valley Library last April.

She read selections from her newest book - with the unforgettable name of Miss Plastique - her newest of six books.

Later she told us about how it was written. "I stockpiled poems that were too racy and too angry to be published anywhere else."

She also read us poems about The Minor Virtues, a new theme she's working on. She wrote about spending loose change from the perspective of the coins

  and the necessity of touching the other person when transferring the change into their hands.

It ended, as her poems often do, on a surprising note. We laffed!

An audience member asked How dyou arrange your poems for a book.

Said Lynn: She oftens writes a prologue. Put your strongest poem first. Make it an upbeat poem b/c you're gonna talk about death further along in the book.

Bill said he found poet Christopher Bursk very helpful in arranging the order of his war tales. Here's my experience with Chris.

Lynn is especially fond of the poet George Bilgere. Holy cow! He lives in my home town of Cleveland and teaches at John Carroll University.

We used to ride our bikes through the campus.

Lynn lost an award to Bilgere. "Something new happens in every line," she said.

And Bill lost an award to another well-known poet.

Other fave poets include Mark Doty


Mark Doty at the grave of poet Frank O'Hara.

Read Chad Davidson here. 

 Lisa, the librarian, asked them, "Why do you write poetry?"

"The thrills are all packed together," said Lynn. "In prose, they take too long."

What a great answer!

Bill said he lacks the patience.

Promo photo of Lynn.

"I love stringing together words," she said.
"It gives me great pleasure."


No comments:

Post a Comment