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
, 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.”