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Dear Educator: This is about something I think you will enjoy personally and find helpful in your work with students. Fooling with Words is a PBS documentary special produced with young people in mind. We wanted them to see just how vital, com- pelling, and enjoyable poetry can be. So we took our cameras to the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in Waterloo, New Jersey, to capture the excitement of “the Woodstock of Poetry.” We covered the festival as if it were a sporting event, with cameras everywhere—on the poets as they performed; the audience as it watched, laughed, wept, and cheered; workshops where students and aspiring bards talked face-to-face with the poets about their craft and their lives. The result is a film that will introduce your students to the power and pleasure of poetry in many guises—from the rhythmic cadences of Amira Baraka and Kurtis Lamkin (who accompanies his poems on the kora, the African ancestor of the harp) to the haunting evocations of Lorna Dee Cervantes and Shirley Geok-lin Lim, the puckish wit of Paul Muldoon, the spiritual power of Jane Hirshfield, the wry com- mentary by Deborah Garrison on the life of women in the workplace, and the moving remembrances of “Halley’s Comet” by Stanley Kunitz, at 95 the dean of American poets. This smorgasbord of contemporary American poetry comes at a timely moment. The New York Times says poetry is enjoying a resurgence in America. The Atlantic Monthly says, “the nation’s hot romance with poetry shows no sign of cooling off.” Esquire predicts poetry will be the pop-culture event at the opening of the new mil- lennium. Volkswagen included poetry books as a “standard feature” in all its new cars during National Poetry Month, and poetry is being celebrated at events from the recent White House gathering of poets to poetry slams in smoky downtown bars. Fooling with Words captures the spirit of this phenomenon. We hope you will tape the program and use the accompanying materials. Sincerely, Bill Moyers T HE G ERALDINE R. D ODGE P OETRY F ESTIVAL The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival is the largest poetry event in North America. The Festival, held every other year, was inaugurated in 1986 by the Dodge Foundation to help poetry assume its rightful place in the center of our imagi- native and emotional lives. Situated in historic Waterloo Village in Northern New Jersey, the Festival offers four days of poetry readings and poetry-centered events—discussions, conversations, and workshops—for students, teach- ers, and the general public. For more information, visit the Festival Web site at, fax (973)540-1211, call (973) 540-8443 ext.139, or write to Poetry Festival, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, 163 Madison Avenue, P.O.Box 1239, Morristown, NJ 07962-1239.
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