A Peek into the Poetry of Excellence

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Grady

Imagine walking through your world, except there would be personifications instead of trees, powerful ironies instead of depressing misfortunes, and everything in life is but a metaphor for something deeper. This may very well be the world in which a professional poet lives. Literary devices would be inherent of the world and the English language would be a set of building materials with which anything can be created.
The Chautauqua Poets and Writers Organization is an organization dedicated to bringing some of the nation’s most respected authors and poets to Southern Oregon. It was created by Ashland High School students in the mid 2000’s and sprouted from the International Writers organization and New Chautauqua Lecture Series. Its first poet was Li-Young Lee brought to speak at Southern Oregon University in 2005.
Recently, because of the efforts of the Chautauqua Poets and Writers Organization, a nationally renowned poet, Tony Hoagland, whom I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting, visited our small town of Ashland. He held two workshops at the Ashland High School and performed the night of October 18 where he read his poetry to an audience.
I was able to have very informational and profound conversations with this man at both a dinner and lunch held by the CPW. There I was able to really get into the mind of a man who writes one of the most abstract advanced forms of art for a living. One if his most emphasized tips for all aspiring poets was to master the English language. Take every word you know, taste them, savor them, and put them together like a chef puts together ingredients in his main course. Another one of his prominent aphorisms was an encouragement to poets to lose the sentimentality and just write. No one will ever enjoy reading about your high school drama the way they will enjoy a structured, unique, witty, and outrageous poem.
For all you aspiring poets out there, I recommend learning about the CPW. Follow them habitually. Twice a year every year they bring a nationally renowned poet to Southern Oregon, from whom you could learn vast amounts. Judging from my experience with Tony Hoagland: seeing him speak and much less meeting him, I learned so much about not only poetry but a process of creativity which is inherent of all people but mastered by only a few. By putting yourself in these situations where you interact with the masters you can learn and become even closer to acing the creative process just as Tony Hoagland and so many artisan poets have.

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