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National Poetry Month

by Mary Vuk Bowering
George Bowering

April is the cruelest month, wrote T.S. Eliot. That, however, was long before The Academy of American Poets designated April as National Poetry Month in an effort to encourage individuals and the media to pay more attention to the art of poetry, living poets and our poetic heritage.

Visitors to Woodland Pattern will surely find that April will be an unusually kind month for poetry. For starters, two notable writers will read.

At 7 pm on April 22, George Bowering, a former Poet Laureate of Canada and a two-time winner of Canada’s Governor General’s Award, will read with Ammiel Alcalay, scholar, poet and translator. Bowering has written more than 70 books, including 40 books of poetry. Bowering will also read at 7:30 pm, April 20 at UWM’s Hefter Center, 3271 N. Lake Drive. He will throw out the first ball before the Brewers-Reds game on Friday, April 21. This may well be the first time in major league history that a Canadian Poet Laureate has done so.

“This guy, being the poet he is, will convince you he has thrown a good curve ball, regardless of whether he has the stuff to throw one,” James Hazard, Professor of English at UWM said.

Alcalay
Ammiel Alcalay

Ammiel Alcalay grew up in Boston and is a firstgeneration American and son of Sephardic Jews from Bosnia. He is best known as a Middle Eastern scholar and instructor, specializing in Sephardic literature and Middle Eastern and Mediterranean literacy and intellectual culture. He teaches at Queens College and the City University of New York Graduate Center. His articles, poems and translations have appeared in The New Yorker, Time Magazine, The Village Voice and The Jerusalem Post, among other publications.

“Every month is poetry month at Woodland Pattern,” Executive Director Anne Kingsbury said. During April, however, Woodland Pattern wants to get the word out about poetry even farther than normal.

During March and April, Woodland Pattern instructors are conducting outreach poetry workshops which emphasize individuality, imagination and identity at Franklin Pierce Elementary School and the Milwaukee School for Sign Language. They are working with kindergartners, first, fourth, fifth and seventh graders as part of the Arts at Large program. In March, Woodland Pattern presented programs in partnership with the Milwaukee Area Girl Scouts and the Milwaukee Archdiocese.

“These are all examples of poetry sneaking in through the doors, under the doors, through the keyholes. Poetry reaches everywhere,” Kingsbury said.

The Woodland Pattern Gallery is currently displaying artwork by Tom Raworth, a widely acclaimed British poet and author of more than 40 books, who also is a printer, publisher, editor, translator, visual artist and satirist. His visual art, including collages, cartoons and a travelogue of his seven-week American tour will be on display in the Gallery through May. Raworth read in March at Woodland Pattern.

Speaking of the collages, Kingsbury said: “They are living well. There is something that is interesting to come back to and look at. It is also interesting because when you stand far away, you get a sense of pattern but when you get up close, then you see the texture and the individual little idiosyncrasies that are in there that relate.” Raworth constructs his collages by arranging squares cut out of photographs from discarded newspapers and magazines in a grid-like pattern.y

Riverwest Currents online edition – April, 2006