‘Can Poetry Save the Earth?’ talk held on Oct. 27


CORVALLIS, OR. – John Felstiner, award-winning author, translator and scholar, will give a free, public talk in Corvallis based on his latest book, “Can Poetry Save the Earth? A Field Guide to Nature Poems,” beginning at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 27, at the Corvallis Arts Center (700 S.W. Madison Ave.).

In his book, Felstiner explores the rich legacy of poems that take nature as their subject, and he demonstrates their force and beauty. Poets – from the Romantics through Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson to Elizabeth Bishop and Gary Snyder – have helped readers envision such details as ocean winds eroding and rebuilding dunes in the same breath, wild deer freezing, and a person carving initials on a still-living stranded whale, he says.

Felstiner will argue that in a time of environmental crisis, poetry has a unique capacity to restore people’s attention to the environment in its imperiled state.

Eavan Boland wrote of his work: “It is John Felstiner's unique vision of the nature poem as a bio-world in itself – holding safe for us what we have freely endangered – that gives this book a radiance of power and conviction. It also marks it out as of central importance in the developing conversation on poetry and the environment.”

Felstiner, a professor of English at Stanford University, is a fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the author of several books, including one on a Jewish poet, “Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew,” that was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. It won the Truman Capote Prize for Literary Criticism in 1997.

His talk is sponsored by Oregon State University’s Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word.