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D.E. Axinn Professor of English and Creative Writing Jay Parini is a novelist, biographer, and critic but he considers himself a poet first.

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Jay Parini Reads from His New Book of Poetry on Vermont Public Television’s “Poets and Their Craft” [video]

April 12, 2016




MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – D.E. Axinn Professor of English and Creative Writing Jay Parini is a novelist, biographer, and critic but he considers himself a poet first. Vermont Public Television’s (VPT) new series “Poets and Their Craft” recently featured Parini reading work included in his latest volume, New and Collected Poems: 1975-2015, his first book of poetry in more than a decade. The VPT program offers portions of the reading, which took place at the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vt., as well as footage of Parini discussing poetry.


In the interview, Parini contemplates many aspects of his poetry, from his sources of inspiration to his belief that poetry translates experience into language. “Poetry, especially lyric poetry, is very often focused on an image,” said Parini. “One still, vivid image is not just pictorial. It’s oral as well.”

Parini tells VPT that he is continually thinking about poetry. Sometimes, when he’s walking in the woods, phrases for a poem will surface and then linger for years before he uses them. The natural world is often reflected in his poems as is his upbringing in Scranton, Penn., in a family of coal miners – his grandparents and uncles were miners. As a writer and a poet, Parini said he has also learned a great deal from reading the work of others, including Frost, Dante, Virgil, and Homer. 

For Parini, poetry speaks to many aspects of human character. “Poetry,” said Parini, “lightens the spirit.”  

2 Comments

Great interview! Mr. Parini captures the spirit of poetry in clear, simple, direct language with fresh, usual imagery. He also pays proper respect to and abides by Robert Frost's sage advice about "saying" a poem and knowing when to stop. One slight correction, however, Odysseus does not visit the underworld to see his father but, rather, to "seek the soul" of the prophet Tiresias, who will tell him how to make it back home to Ithaka.

by George Viglirolo (not verified)

Delightful! Prof. Parini explains his craft with charm, wisdom and wit and his enthusiasm is contagious. I wish the camera could have kept rolling. A series?

by Melinda Shallcross (not verified)

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