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Poet laureate visits Corban

Thursday, September 12, 2013
  • Oregon Poet Laureate Paulann Peterson leads a workshop at Corban University on Sept. 10, 2013.

 

To encourage descriptive thinking, Paulann Peterson, Oregon’s Poet Laureate, led a group of students, staff and Salem residents in a poetry writing workshop Sept. 10.

Peterson spoke softly, presenting possible scenarios as the group silently jotted down their responses to her suggestions.

Her “sense” suggestions led the prospective poets to consider a time when they were ill or injured: what the surroundings were, what sounds they heard, what they felt and what they smelled.

“Touch is more than feeling with your fingers,” Peterson explained, noting the breeze stirred up by a fan as an aspect of “touch.”

One of those present was Professor of Humanities Jim Hills, whose poem, inspired by the workshop, is here:

Summer Song

This is to praise

two gray doves

modest in dress and voice

sounding like a breeze

in a bottle’s green mouth;

and the salmon dark-backed as a log in the rain

shooting away from my canoe,

losing himself in the shimmer

of sun on river stones;

and the cherries I bought for my wife

and me at a stand beside a quiet road

on Orcas Island, and the farmer

who knew I would leave

money in the wooden box;

and August corn, too hot to hold, shining

with bright butter on a sky blue plate;

and Orion, bow drawn,

hunting in the tops

of the great firs.

 

Elizabeth, in Jakarta,

I’m singing this for you.