Richard Tillinghast, Poetry

Richard Tillinghast

Bear River 2013

Richard Tillinghast is a poet and translator, author of fifteen books of poetry and creative nonfiction including memoir, travel, and literary criticism. His most recent poetry book is Wayfaring Stranger, Word Palace Press, 2012; his most recent nonfiction book is An Armchair Traveller’s History of Istanbul, Haus Publishing, London, 2013, which has been nominated for the Ondaatje Prize given annually by the Royal Society of Literature for a book evoking the sense of place. In 2008 Tillinghast published Finding Ireland: A Poet’s Explorations of Irish Literature and Culture, winner of ForeWord magazine’s Book of the Year prize for travel essays. He has been awarded the Amy Lowell Travelling Fellowship from Harvard, grants from the NEA and the NEH, the British Council and the Irish Arts Council, and was a 2010-11 Guggenheim Fellow in poetry. He retired from the creative writing faculty at the University of Michigan in 2005 and teaches part-time in the low residency MFA program at Converse College. He is currently dividing his time between Tennessee and the Big Island of Hawaii.

Photo Credit: Joshua Tillinghast

Workshop: Trips and Journeys

 “We are driving to the interior.”       

Journeys in poetry can be inner as well as outer. The ocean voyage in Elizabeth Bishop’s “Arrival at Santos” concludes with the first line of her poem: “Here is a coast; here is a harbor.” The poem ends with the provocative line, “We are driving to the interior.” In the poems we write for this workshop, we too will be trying to make outer journeys correspond with inner. Say the journey is a horizontal movement; then the discoveries or epiphanies are the verticals we reach, often at the ends of poems. During the course of these journeys we may discover something about ourselves. Identities sometimes shift or are redefined. As Denise Levertov writes of the train trip she takes in her poem, “By Rail through the Earthly Paradise”:

In the deep aftermath
of its faded rhythm, I could become

a carved stone
set in the gates of the earthly paradise,

an angler’s fly
lost in the sedge to watch the centuries.

Let’s see what we discover and become during our journeys together in poetry on the shores of Walloon Lake!

Richard Tillinghast on the Web