An Afternoon with Diane Wakoski: Part 1 of 2

By Kelsey Block

The RCAH Center for Poetry is proud to announce that tomorrow night, Wednesday February 5, poet Diane Wakoski will be joining us to read from her new book, Bay of Angels, in the RCAH theater at 7 p.m.

“I’m bringing my career of poetry together with my fascination of movies and books. All of the sensuous material of my experience with the southern California landscape and the joy I’ve had in my lifetime of writing letters and the meaningful way I’ve been able to fold it into my poetry…”

Wakoski said she started writing poetry at the age of seven. She said she was sitting on her front porch step, looking out at the rosebush in the yard of her southern California home. One day, Wakoski said she noticed a rose on the rosebush, was struck by its beauty.

“I realized it was so beautiful and I didn’t know what to do,” Wakoski said, noting that her mother had recently given her a book of poetry. “I realized what I was feeling, in whatever little 7-year-old way you realize these things, that what I was feeling was the words in these poems. So I wrote a poem.”

Even though she began writing at a very young age, Wakoski said she didn’t write any “real poems” until she was in high school, and she did not have any work published until she went to college at Berkeley.

“I have had many, many, many best moments in my life,” Wakoski said, adding that while getting a new book published is no longer a “best moment” to her, she still feels a tingle of excitement when she gets the first copy. “Best moments should be an everyday experience… But often, a specific poetry reading is a best moment because there’s this wonderful reciprocity between me and the audience.”

Wakoski said writing has always been easy for her and that she connects her poetry to experience. Wakoski also shared that she will be a part of a new anthology featuring hybrid forms of poetry.

“I didn’t realize that I was such an innovator that I’ve been one of the first people using this hybrid form,” she said. Wakoski’s hybrid form combines her letters and correspondence with her poetry. “I could put things in the letter text that I wouldn’t be able to put into the poem. I’m not sure I took advantage of that, but that’s what the possibilities were.”

“Poetry is for those moments when something moves you because of its beauty, pure beauty, for anything that engages you to look at it and experience its transformative power,” the 76-year-old poet said. “Beauty transforms you.”

Stay tuned for more later this week!

Published by cpoetrymsu

The Center for Poetry opened in the fall of 2007 to encourage the reading, writing, and discussion of poetry and to create an awareness of the place and power of poetry in our everyday lives. We think about this in a number of ways, including through readings, shows, community outreach, and workshops. We are at work building a poetry community at MSU and in the greater Lansing area. Contact: (517) 884-1932

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