Dr. Barbara Mossberg » Podcast Feed
Dr. Barbara Mossberg » Podcast Feed
The Poetry Slowdown with Dr. Barbara Mossberg
Poet in Residence, Pacific Grove California
What would Rumi do and say? Finding the rhyme in your day and Other Ways to SLOW DOWN for Pete’s Sakes and All That’s at Stake! (After our show today, when people say, how did you spend this hour, you can say, oh, I slowed down rhyming with a whale.) (And Rumi would say, And that’s a good thing! And with a horse!)
First of all, welcome to our PoetrySlowDown you’re slowing down with me, Professor Mossberg, aka Dr. B, with our Producer Zappa Johns, and the idea for the show is from Simon and Garfunkle’s 59th Street Bridge Song slow down, you move too fast, you’ve got to make the morning last. This show began as AM Talk Radio on 540AM, KRXA, and people called in from all over the U.S. and from several countries, and it was very ironic it was at noon, and so I thought that we would make the morning last, literally, by slowing down with poetry . . . There was news at the top of the hour, and I thought of time that way, as a shape, as a space, as a ball, and it was 54 minutes in diameter, although in my head it was an hour. I had three breaks for commercials, and it had to be exactly scheduled. So here I was, providing a time and place for people to slow down in their daily lives, and make the morning last, literally, and metaphorically for those on the east coast and Midwest and overseas, and I was hurrying, panting, a mile-a-minute trying to fit all the words in by the time it would go silent and the news, the late-breaking, heartbreaking news go on, eclipsing our heart-shaking news WITHOUT WHICH MEN DIE MISERABLY EVERY DAY (William Carlos Williams), so it was kind of paradoxical. Slowing down at breakneck speed. It was funny, too, because Paul Simon’s lyrics about slowing down were specifically about being a poet, engaging with the world that way: Hello, lamppost, whatcha knowin? I’ve come to watch your flowers growin, ain’t ya got no rhymes for me . . . So he’s looking around his world, totally relaxed and chill, counting on rhymes, on the prowl and amble for poetry around every corner. I was thinking about rhymes . . . they are sort of a miracle! How words that seemingly have nothing to do with each other sound alike, and thus call each other to mind as if they are actually connected. And so the brain thereby connects them. And each carries a meaning, something we can visualize–an object, an experience, a feeling, an idea, and to see such words rhyme, we instantly are connecting them, seeing how they relate. I was just reciting e.e. cummings’ “I thank You God for this amazing” for my eco literature class, and by saying it out loud, you apprehend rhymes you might not notice by sight on the page. I’ll say it for us, since it is definitely a New Years’ Poem, a new day, new decade, new life, waking up poem. Since it’s a sonnet, it has a formal rhyme scheme; every other line’s last word rhymes, in theory . . . thus, we have amazing and everything; trees and yes; earth and birth; day and gay; no and You; awake and, and opened. These rhymes make us understand the message, cummings’ gospel, that everything is amazing. This is a fairly not subversive, but radical proposition for the mind: a human responsibility to experience wonder, awe, reverence, astonishment, without boundaries, unconditionally. The final couplet almost gets by us: awake and/opened. It took me a few years to notice this, reading it and reciting it. I know! And so you think how brilliant, how clever cummings is, in his physics ministry, to make us get this connection between being awake and opened, in the sense of Henry David Thoreau and Diane Ackerman’s A Natural History of the Senses–do you know this book? She has a slew of books on the neuroscience of consciousness from the point of view of poetry she is as lyric as they come a Pablo Neruda a sensual visualist; she is earthy, she smacks of earth-smells, of moss and rain and honeysuckle; she is intense and her point is that if we open ourselves to our world, we experience the beauty, the reverence.We hear Dolly Parton’s song, sung with Willie Nelson, “Everything Is Beautiful In Its Own Way.”And there is a method I am learning from an artist at the University of Madrid, Rosalinda Ruiz-Scarfuto, the Flaneur method, which p[...]
Jan 12, 2020
1 hr 1 min
Elation Equation: And We Shall Be A Mighty Kindness (Rumi) or, e=mc² Explained–A Special Theory of Relativity
As we consider Emerson (whom the late Harold Bloom called “God”) and Einstein, and Astra theology, and what is known about the universe in ancient and emergent minds, considering human and civil rights, peace, and the environment (Peace! Love! Freedom! Happiness!) in which we hear (Hear! Hear!) from Listen, John Steinbeck, Rumi, John Lennon, Elvis, and Hair, as well as Leonard Bernstein, as well as Ian Chillag’s Radiotopia’s “Everything is Alive.” And more thoughts with the University of Oregon’s Insight Seminar and Clark Honors College’s “Thinking Like the Sun: Travel in Ancient and Emergent Minds.” This is Professor Barbara Mossberg with our Producer Zappa Johns.  Who understands e=mc²? It takes a genius, right? Do we think genius is beyond us? That genius is Einstein maybe, but not you? Do we think Einstein is in his own orbit, far removed from us? We may think knowledge of the world is far from what we can grasp in our everyday life–and thus let it go as an intellectual luxury we cannot afford, and turn back to our daily reality, the shoelace and the biscuit, the diagnosis, the wine, the tomato harvested from the garden. Love worry, trying so hard to do the right thing, these are our joys and work. And as for Emerson, well, is he just impossible to understand to the point of irrelevance? My heart rouses thinking to bring you news of something that concerns you and concerns many men. Look at what passes for the new. You will not find it there but in despised poems. It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there. William Carlos Williams gives both a diagnosis and Rx in poetry, as difficult and despised as it may be. Together with the idea of irrelevance to our stressed responsible lives, these ideas of literature, and genius as something we don’t have to worry about, are contested and exuberantly and earnestly interrogated by two of the greatest minds of the 19th and 20th centuries, who sought to convince us that WE are what the doctor ordered. In fact, that we are geniuses the world needs now. And they are going to define just what they think this means, as wise, enlightened citizenry. © Barbara Mossberg 2019
Oct 27, 2019
1 hr 4 min
How Is It That Pumpkins Are Orange Coming Out of Soil?
Let us consider poetry as necessary for life as soil. Just because nutritious soil is necessary to life, all our lives on earth, does not mean it is not downright miraculous. A little clay here, rock there, dust, remains, odds and ends of minerals, a hodgepodge of organic and inorganic grow beanstalks for giants. And so poetry, remarkable makings of new life and old life, what is mud and what shines, the quotidian reality revealed as utterly remarkable. It turns out nursery rhymes are literal. People live in shoes. The dish runs away with the spoon. When we figure out dark energy, phantom energy, weâ€ll know this was right. Weâ€ll know it is violin music that makes the chemicals in soil come to life, the spirit, Godâ€s breath. As we consider harvest days, and pumpkins in the fields, itâ€s not the pumpkin spice we love in all the products now flavored with pumpkin, itâ€s the orange, the roundness we want, that we taste, itâ€s the goodness of its soil that makes the orange and the round, the remarkable of everything we see, everything we are. This is the dust of our minds, of our spirits, this not taking for granted what is here, this is the spin, the miracle of it.c Barbara Mossberg 2019 Food is on my mind, as you see, but on your mind as well. I know this, because you have written me about our “helpful banana bread” series on the poetry of food and hunger. So Iâ€m in. This show does include an original recipe for pumpkin soup, so keep your pens handy—you remember pens—you remember hands—you remember hands—of course you do—youâ€re the POETRY SLOW DOWN, youâ€re evolved, youâ€re ancient wisdom on which so much depends, your ears are what the doctor ordered, the earth needs now: so HEARâ€s the skinny (alas) on food from the point of view of your radio host, Iâ€m your Professor Barbara Mossberg, aka Dr. B, produced by our faithful Zappa Johns, yes THAT Zappa, a West Coast commitment along the tectonic plates, and speaking of plates, and plating it, letâ€s begin, letâ€s gather at the table, for the Contents! The Tableof Contents! Ah, I get it, Dr. B! Of course you do—youâ€re the POETRY SLOW DOWN.  © Barbara Mossberg 2019
Sep 24, 2019
1 hr 17 min
Hassle of errands on Saturday’s stressed To To: when anything brings bliss and bless (in this case washing the car)
WWRS? (What Would Rumi Say?) What does poetry have to do with it? Stay tuned for The Poetry Slow Down with Professor Barbara Mossberg.  Enjoy the video for this week’s episode on our Facebeook page.
Sep 10, 2019
1 hr 20 min
Poetry Slow Down, our episode this week begins a series wherein we embark on ancient ships and rocky land routes to engage with trees, as people have always done, and I mean always. Since recorded history, our first forays into writing down whatâ€s in our human brains have been records of talks with trees. Gilgamesh, Greek mythology, the Bible, Mohammed, Pliny the Elder, Caesar, Tolkien, King Arthur, Shakespeare, Alice Walker: the list is long, surprising, star-studded, and global. Now science is saying that trees do talk (for example, Peter Wohlleben, The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Fell, How They Communicate,a bestseller in many countries—and his wife told him to write it, Iâ€m just sayin). And Michael Pollanâ€s The Botany of Desire: A Plantâ€s-Eye View of the World, another best-seller. Yet poets have ever said so: how trees talk to us, not just to each other. We hear them in words. We hear them in poems. In our episode, we review the world over for the cases in which trees are recorded in history and literature of actually breaking into conversations, weeping when being left out, and needing to be consoled, and giving gritty and divine advice and healing love. We recall how in Steven Sondheimâ€s Into the WoodsCinderella “asks the tree” (whom her mother has become) for advice. In our next show, weâ€ll look at more of these stories about us talking to trees (Clint Eastwood “I Talk to the Trees”), and trees talking to us and what poets make of them, from Rilke and Alice Walker to John Muir and John Steinbeck, and the myths and religions that wrap around these events of tree-human relations. Then weâ€ll consider poets who wonder in what ways trees are human, and we are trees, and what happens to each of us when weâ€re cut down (Mars?). Trees, it seems, are inextricable from how we understand not only our human fate, but our actual humanity in the first place. Join me on this journey—youâ€ll be surprised (I am) and slowed down, way down—you know you move too fast! Write me at Barbara.mossberg@gmail.com for your own story of your encounter with a tree. What has a tree said to YOU? Youâ€re not alone. Weâ€ll all in this together! ©  Barbara Mossberg 2019
Jun 17, 2019
1 hr 16 min
As we celebrate Walt Whitmanâ€s birthday, we consider how seriously as a poet he took joy (very). As it turns out, in fact, poets taking joy seriously is a thing. Weâ€re slowing down today (you know you move too fast) to consider this phenomenon, and ferret out the gloom in June that besets us on this journey of ours. Weâ€ll hear from bossy poets and obedient poets on taking joy seriously—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, e.e. cummings, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, W.B. Yeats, Charles Tripi, Mary Oliver, Shakespeare, Whitman, Brian Doyle. As our family says when we begin a trip, Hi ho! Let us go then, you and I, as T.S. Eliot said, let us arise and go then, as W.B. Yeats said, letâ€s go, says bc Mossberg, your joyful host today, with our Producer Zappa Johns, for the Poetry Slow Down–seriously joyful considering us seriously and our remarkable and necessary capacity for joy! © Barbara Mossberg 2019Â
Jun 3, 2019
44 min
CONFESSIONS OF KILLER OF CATERPILLARS, HEADS UP TO DEER (AND OTHERS) AT RISK, BEING RAPT, RAPTORMANIA, RAPTURE, AND RIPARIAN ECSTASY YOU HAVE TIME FOR IF YOU SLOW DOWN: Poems and Lyric Prose “On Life” and Utterly Necessary Living, Life, and Death. This just in, #PoetrySlowDown#saveyourlifenow, fresh from saving my lavender from The Very Hungry Caterpillar (apologies to Eric Carle who just.doesnâ€t.know—or does ) with white oozy sticky caterpillar remains and output on my hands, fresh from killing mindfully the white foam-containing fanged monsters, to talk to you lyrically with great sensitivity and empathy about our world and why and how to love it, for all our sakes, yes, tis moi, and all Iâ€m going to say about that is this: if you love a gardener, and you should, you are at great risk of hating bonafide elements of our world and harboring murderous thoughts, and by the way, you know, you know you know, give it up– itâ€s hopeless. But fear not, because in our show this week, we uplift ourselves with Shelley, no less, “On Life,” and “Mutability,” Patricia Hamplâ€s The Art of the Wasted Day(along with our essential Mary Oliver and James Wright), Brian Doyleâ€s riffs on life from How the Light Gets In (you otter listen, and Iâ€m not just badgering you), Doriann Lauxâ€s “Life is Beautiful” (each getting us all misty about creatures that make us crawl and yelp—oh, wait—they crawl and yelp, and we, we shudder, we look for weaponized brooms: what happens when you love a gardener (if you learn you hate creatures what then becomes of you?). Well, poetry helps us figure it out, this age-old crisis of conscience, of being on two opposing sides at once, but only if we take time out, slow down—you know you move too fast– to live right. Itâ€s true, perhaps, people could judge you, think youâ€re wasting your time right now, listening to poetry and its gab, but thereâ€s a lot of evidence that what we call wasting our timeand being unproductive is actually supremely practical in getting done what needs to get done in this life—like being rapt, amazed, astonished, awed, grateful, humble, at all we can see and feel. Our showâ€s abiding spirit, William Carlos Williams, who felt that “so much depends upon a red wheel barrow” glistening in the rain next to which white chickens—yep, thatâ€s it, but he said poetry is news thatâ€s life and death—we die miserably without it—thatâ€s pretty down to earth and practical as survival Rx.  The drama and trauma of a garden is only part of it: weâ€re in this world and weâ€re not alone  © Barbara Mossberg
May 26, 2019
53 min
MOTHER’S DAY: confessions when a writer is a daughter!
Never mind the headlines, thereâ€s plenty of drama in the kitchen . . . itâ€s a lot.  A play in the making about a daughter raising her mother from the dead, an act of which her mother approves, although not the means, which is poetry and gets you nowhere . . . . Our show considers a poetâ€s writing about her mother and ultimately making her mother immortal in the process, and the role poetry can play in days of headline news (there may come a day in newspapers†demise when that is going to be a quaint expression, only metaphor—) (let it not be so!), with framing poems by Dorianne Laux and Shakespeare,  and music from “Hair” and Carol King and Judy Collins and “Que Sera Sera.” So Iâ€m sharing with you my poems about my mother, as a tribute program to Motherâ€s Day, and some day, I will share my poems about being a mother, and what that has to do with poetry! Are you listening because you love mothers or because you love poetry? I will try to honor both kinds of listening! May the 4thand every day be with you. Yours sincerely, Professor Mossberg, aka Dr. B © Barbara Mossberg 2019
May 12, 2019
58 min
Please help yourself to an hour (plucked from Daylight Savings Time), slowing down (because you know you move too fast) for the up of the ThePoetrySlowDown that aspires to be a Holy Fire Reiki for your spirit (as poetry perhaps always has been). With our Producer Zappa Johns, on Californiaâ€s Central Coast, and me, your host Professor Barbara Mossberg, known to my students and certain bartenders as Dr. B, you are taking this time for yourself to dwell in mystery and wonder, as Paul Simon sings it, or the terrain of miracle, as Einstein conceives it, or Possibility, as the quantum practitioner Emily Dickinson says is a place and way she dwells.  Through the lens of Radiotopiaâ€s podcast with Ian Chillag, “Everything Is Alive,” which shows us how the human imagination can comprehend objects in our world as our relations, mysterious companions on this life journey—illuminating our capacities for compassion and empathy, our humility in the face of an imagined soda can or lamppost or grain of sand (as the podcast episodes introduce us), we consider a kind of quantum miracle, how a poem, nothing alive, not even here, perhaps sound waves, or a piece of paper, can touch you powerfully—or perhaps even more powerfully, than being physically touched. In Reiki, energy flows from one being to another through intention. What are the physics, as well as metaphysics, of a poem lighting you, lifting you? How is that a poem can quicken you, slow you down, make you feel seen and heard, and from what? Squiggles on a page? Someone somewhere whom you may not even know, in a language you may not even speak, in a place you have never seen, a body unlike your own, eating food you think is disgusting, perhaps ill, perhaps starving, someone you may perhaps not speak to if you passed on the street, has paused in their day to write down words. Perhaps I should not say “pause,” because perhaps what is written is the work of the day after all, the destination of oneâ€s energy. Perhaps the poem is the path on which one finds oneself at last, even if lost, even if seeking, realizing, as Wendell Berry says in “Our Real Work,”  It may be that when we no longer know what to dowe have come to our real work,and that when we no longer know which way to gowe have come to our real journey.The mind that is not baffled is not employed.The impeded stream is the one that sings. Speaking of “impeded stream,” we’ll ponder poetry as Holy Fire Reiki, how a poem can move you, touch you, ease what’s been impeding you, how something by another being removed from you in time and space can rock your world, and save us: that is the intent of the focused energy. Emily Dickinson, Thoreau, Walt Whitman, schooled by Ralph Waldo Emerson, will be revealed as quantum physicists anticipating Einstein. We’ll hear how Rilke, William Carlos Williams, James Wright, and Mary Oliver, have the specific intent to change and save our lives with their poetry, how phycisist e.e. cummings takes us from “everything is alive” to “every thing” as amazing, and how Brian Doyle gives us moving poems in Reiki style that bring us “fellow mortals” into one human coherence, and my own poem “Your Life as an Earth” joins the fray of poets with intention to save us, save the day. It’s all here (hear hear!) for your hearing, for as Walt Whitman says, your good health, and as your grateful host says, your sense of gift for consciousness on this “amazing day,” “alive again today.” That’s the intent of this Holy Fire Reiki show today, and thank you for beinghear.  © Barbara Mossberg 2019
Mar 11, 2019
1 hr 7 min
A consideration of what we consider slow news, and whatâ€s at stake, for our own survival and for society at large. In which we take up the fate of earth and all life (including spiders—and youâ€ll be glad) (you truly will) in poems by Walt Whitman, William Carlos Williams, Brian Doyle, Mary Oliver, James Wright, Theodore Roethke, Wendell Berry, Cynthia Wolloch, Elizabeth Bishop, Mark Doty, Robert Burns, Walt Whitman, Stanley Kunitz, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Thomas Lux, Shakespeare, Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, Leo Lionni, Maxfield Poizat-Newcomb, Caden Oâ€Connell, and more. In such poems, so-called pests and weeds and other unloved creatures thrive by our own hand, thrive by our notice, thrive by our attention, thrive by our love, thrive by our gratitude: weâ€ll hear valentines to earth—love is still in the air! Yes, even Spiders and what not live, and we live! So what matters? So much. And thus we sort out the news we need, the news we heed, the news without which men die miserably every day( —thank you William Carlos Williams).  Let us go then, welcoming you to the Poetry Slow Down, you know you move too fast, weâ€re produced on the West Coast by Zappa Johns, Iâ€m based here in Eugene, Oregon, Track Capital of the World, for poetic feet, podcast at barbaramossberg.com, and weâ€re taking time out from the headline news, late-breaking fast-breaking heart-breaking news, for the news you need, the news we heed, the news without which men die miserably every day. Well, what do I mean by this, exactly, as I invite you to slow down . . . these words are taken from a long poem by William Carlos Williams, who was featured in a feature film Paterson a few years ago, named for the epic poem he wrote about his home town. In “To Asphodel, That Greeny Flower,” Williams says, my heart rouses . . . and he should know! Whatâ€s in these poems, anyway? He claims it will save our life and make us happy. Then he writes a poem like “The Red Wheelbarrow.” What is he talking about? How can he say that? What depends? Letâ€s look at some poems that call on us to be happy and to save our life—not waste it . . .  © Barbara Mossberg 2019
Feb 18, 2019
54 min
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