Jerry Wemple (Bloomsburg University)
Much of the oldest poetry we have is narrative (The Odyssey, Beowulf) and narrative poems have continued into modern times. While we often think of epic poems in this genre (Berryman’s mock-epic Dream Songsor Walcott’s Nobel-winning Omeros), there are shorter (and sometimes humorous) examples of this genre as well (Bishop’s “The Fish” or Thayer’s “Casey at the Bat”). Narrative poets often provide a sense of history and setting as viewed through their keen eye for detail, providing readers with a chance to shape our sense of worlds that might otherwise be unknown to us. Narrative poets record places, language, cultures might otherwise slip away. In our contemporary world, things change rapidly, in both social terms and in the physical realm. City neighborhoods give over to decay or development, small town lose population and fall away from notice. This panel seeks poets writing in the narrative tradition whose poems capture the personal and the public, recording and reflecting on our world by summoning the language and creating the identity of our culture. Panelists will read from their original work and then take questions from the audience.