Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Philip Schultz: New Poems "Failure" is anything but

Philip Schultz, founder of the estimable Writers Studio, launched his new book, "Failure" last night to a packed house of students, fans and poetry admirers. The response was expected: after all this was an audience of believers in Schultz, whose tireless work as a promoter and teacher of the craft of poetry has earned him a well-deserved reputation as one who practices what he preaches. Yet, the work in "Failure" is so touching, moving and harmonious, that Schultz probably could have read to a group of geese and held them spellbound. His poetry packs magic with every line, and "Failure" is highly recommended. Here's a brief excerpt from the title poem:


To pay for my father's funeral
I borrowed money from people
he already owed money to.
One called him a nobody.
No, I said, he was a failure.
You can't remember
a nobody's name, that's why
they're called nobodies.
Failures are unforgettable.
An uncle, counting on his fingers
my father's business failures--
a parking lot that raised geese,
a motel that raffled honeymoons,
a bowling alley with roving mariachis--
failed to love and honor his brother,
who showed him how to whistle
under covers, steal apples
with his right or left hand. Indeed,
my father was comical.

Also on the bill was the remarkable Gerald Stern (pictured), who packs a wallop with his "biting" sense of humor and his incisive slicing off of the facade of everything he speaks or writes about. I think the word "charming" was invented to describe him! Edward Hirsch, who got his first job from Stern teaching poetry in the schools, hosted the evening. Talk about a beautiful night! Whew!