A documentary masterwork of note…

In 1994, renowned American journalist and public commentator, Bill Moyer, assembled a PBS documentary team, and traveled to the biennial Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival at Waterloo Village in Stanhope, New Jersey. What Bill and his team captured in those four days of the festival is nothing short of magic.

The brilliantly creative effort was made into a captivating eight-hour, eight-part PBS television series in 1995 entitled “The Language of Life – A Festival of Poets”. Doubleday also released a companion hardcover book of the same name in the same year. The book was subsequently released as a book on CD — and the series was released as an 8-disc DVD.

Each of these three formats captured the spirit and energy of this event — and each stands alone as a powerful, provocative, thought-provoking work. Each provides a very different and engaging perspective of the four amazing days — so each is a prize for your library.

The conversational nature of the book, entwined with the excellent photography, make it something you can pick up again and again. It is a marvelous read cover to cover. You can also travel through in a non-linear journey, selecting to read each poet’s section, in the order you wish. The photos in the book are splendid.

The book on CD enables you to sit back, close your eyes, and experience the essence of being part of the conversational interviews. The background sounds of the festival are mixed in, giving it a striking, highly personal “you are there” feel.

The eight disc DVD of the original PBS series is simply breathtaking. I warn you in advance; don’t sit down to begin viewing it until you have a potential 8 hours clear on your schedule — you’re likely not going to want to stop until the end of the discs.

If you enjoy poetry, if you enjoy encountering the human spirit, if you desire to be swept away in an uplifting, intelligent, adventure of the soul – then you will love Bill Moyer’s “The Language of Life – A Festival of Poets’ no matter the media or printed format you may choose. I recommend you collect and enjoy all three.

Then, once in your life, in the September of an even-numbered year; make your way to Waterloo Village in Stanhope, New Jersey — and immerse yourself in the joy and celebration. It will change you!

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1 Comment

Filed under Comment, Cultural, Editorial, Historical, Literary, Topical

One response to “A documentary masterwork of note…

  1. Lucille Clifton’s face lit up with joy, her eyes twinkled as she read her poem, “Ode To My Hips”. When she got to the last line, she leaned toward her audience and said, “and they can still spin a man like a top.” I burst out laughing and clapping, then realized the college poetry class was silent and all eyes were on me, the only non-trad student in attendance. The prof. grinned and asked me to explain my response. I said, “I just found out what I want to be when I grow up.”

    That was twenty years ago and what we were watching was an earlier tape of Bill Moyers attending the Geraldine Dodge Poetry Festival. I went on to finish college and became a teacher, helping others to explore that same joy in finding their own voice and their own songs in poetry.

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