The Poetry Presentations
For each of the presentations that I have given over the past almost four years now, I identify below the poems I used. For some of the presentations, when I subsequently presented to my second group of elders, or when I repeated certain presentations such as America and The Holidays the next year, I added poems and did not use some others; in those cases, I identify below all the poems I have used, and for that reason there sometimes are too many poems identified to use them all comfortably in one presentation. For some presentations, I also suggest alternative poems that might be more suited to other groups or more attractive to another reader; they are identified below the asterisks in the following lists.
Each presentation should be between 50-60 minutes. If, for whatever reason, a presentation is taking longer than expected, skip a poem or two rather than exceed the group’s attention span.
In terms of how the presentations proceed, I generally introduce each poem by talking very briefly about the poet, when the poem was written and any other interesting context. Then I read the poem, rather slowly. After that, I comment briefly on the poem, and then I read it a second time, somewhat faster than the first reading.
Where no known copyright issue exists, I include below the text of the poems that I used. Where a copyright issue exists that I am aware of, I include only the names of the poet and the poem, but you should be able to find the text of the poem without difficulty. Aside from an old-fashioned trip to the library, you should be able to find those poems online by googling the names of the poem and the poet; often, your computer will connect with www.poetryfoundation.org, which has a bountiful collection. Let me also recommend Garrison Keillor’s books, Good Poems and Good Poems for Hard Times, which include Mary Oliver poems that are more difficult to find and very much worth finding.
To get you started, I include the entire text of my introductory presentation, including my brief commentary and the accompanying pictures. I do not include my entire texts and pictures for the other presentations, as that is beyond the scope of this website. But I would be happy to discuss that with you.
I have also not included presentations that have not yet been given, which are works in progress.
All of this is by way of suggestion. As discussed in my article, the best poems to read to others are the ones that speak to you. And the best way to present the poems is the one most comfortable to you.
Finally, I would appreciate it if you brought to my attention any errors in the material below, so that I may correct them.