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February 22, 1985 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-02-22
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Pure
poetic
power
Raw Heaven
By Molly Peacock
Vintage, 54 pages, $6.95
During Ceasefire
by S. Ben-Tov
Harper & Row, 94 pages, $7.95
Paradise Poems
by Gerald Stern
Vintage, 87 pages, $6.95
By Andy Weine
Putting poetry into pigeon-holes has
its limitations, but still everyone
has his favorite aesthetic schools.
Mine could be loosely called the con-
fessional and political schools, so I'm
heartened by two recently released
collections of poetry that work

beautifully in these veins of deep in-
trospection and keen political resoun-
ding. And a third book of poetry, which
works in neither school, lacks any real
oomf (The three collections reviewed
here are prominent releases by major
publishers but by no means represent a
selective harvest of the crop of recently
published poetry.)
A poetry professor I know said that
confessional poetry is out of aesthetic
fashion these days. Maybe so, but no
short era serves as Final Judgement,
which can only come from within
oneself, not from some mob of critics,
myself included. Despite the sway of
fashion and times, young poets will
arise to echoe old schools and prove
that old poetic forms never die, they
just ferment and renew in rekindled,
envenerated styles.
Molly Peacock is such a poet. Her
recent collection, Raw Heaven,
sparkles brilliantly. You've heard of
'page-turners' and can't-put-it-down
thrillers; no one would apply those
claims to poetry books, but many of
Peacock's poems can grab you like
soulful songs you wouldn't want anyne
to interrupt until you reached the last
line, and maybe not even in their
solemn ringing after that.
Most readers, I think, would call her
a deriviative of the old confessional
school of the mid-century, the group of
Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sex-
ton, Delmore Schwartz, and others.
You know, those dirty laundry types
who hang their tragedies on the literary
clothesline for everyone to see. Divor-
ce, suicide, neurosis, insanity, and
death, death, death . . . Isn't this the
80s? Haven't we heard enough of that
flapping laundry, smelled enough of its
stink?
Not me. Confessionists seem to do
more than tell it like it grimly is; they
unleash themselves to fell everything,
anything, with impeccable honesty.
And from there, as Molly Peacock
demonstrates, springs renewal,
healing, rejuvenation.
What is most striking about
Peacock's poetry is its sensitivity and
haunting solemnity. In her first poem,
she writes, Goals far off are fire and
ice, like a walk through snow
toward a bood-orange sunset. But
there is no perfection like that in
coming up close... .
That distance between cold fact and
dreamy wish arises again and again.
With deftness she writes of failed
marriage (I used to be married, god-
damn), of roadside kills (Look hard,

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life's soft), of sad can't-go-on stares in
the mirror. In recurring reflections she
sorts through the junk of her childhood
- her alcoholic father, abused mother,
times of erupting desire, unsatisfied
cries of More!
Peacock is the kind of poet you want
to keep quoting, for so many lines
shimmer with rich metaphors that
really work. Moreover, Peacock has
refreshing insight and honesty that lend
solid foundation for her talent with
language.
According to another poetry

professor I know, no one these days
works in the old form of the sonnet. Yet
Peacock does, and skillfully, too-not
in strict Shakespearean sonnets but in
loqse ones, with sliding meter and
varying numbers of lines but unusually
regular rhyme. The truly remarkable
thing about it is that none of her verse
sounds forced or contrived to fit the
structure; rather, she used the sonnett
like a thin web that lends comfortable
yet not cumbersome support - a
median that's difficult and rarely
achieved.

T HE FAST-PACED life of a
professional journalist is a dream
held by numerous University un-
dergraduates. Paradoxically,
professional journalists from across the
country compete to attend the Univer-
sity.
They come to participate in Jour-
nalists in Residence, a nine-month sab-
batical program for outstanding mid-
career journalists. The program, in-
stituted in 1973, thrived on campus until
last year, when it lost all of its financial
support from the National Endowment
for the Humanities because of federal
funding cuts. But the program's future
now appears secure. A drive to
raise money from individuals and
newspapers is nearing $1 million, the mark
needed to secure a matching grant
from the Knight Foundation and
Knight-Ridder Newspapers.
The program's advisory committee,
composed of prominent journalists
from across the country, will continue
soliciting contributions for an en-
dowment fund of $4 or $5 million. The
endowment would make the program
self-sufficient by allowing it to operate
on the interest earned off contributions.
The University's Journalists in
Residence program is one of two
established by the NEH - the other is
at Stanford Unifersity - to improve the
quality of journalism in general and
coverage of the humanities in par-
ticular. The only other institution to of-
fer such a program is Harvard Univer-
sity. That sabbatical program has been
in existence since 1939.
Graham Hovey, a communication
professor who directs the University's
program, accepts the NEH funding
cuts.
"My philosophy about this program
is that if it's as good for journalism as
we think it is, it should be, and even-
tually will be, supported by the news
industry."
Hovey left the editorial board of The
New York Times in 1980 to head the
program and has spent countless hours
travelling around the nation asking
newspapers of all sizes for donations.
"It would kill me if this program went
under," he says. "I was a flop selling
Christmas cards in sixth grade but the
stakes are higher now."
Dave Lawrence, executive editor and
publisher of the Detroit Free Press, and
Eugene Roberts, executive editor of
The Philadelphia Inquirer, co-chair the
national fund-raising drive. Benjamin
Burns, executive editor of The Detroit
News, and Kenneth Winter, editor and
general manager of the Petoskey News-
Review, lead the capital campaign :.
Michigan.
Winter has a personal as well as a.
professional interest in the preser-
vation of the program. He was granted

a fellowship in the program for the 1978-
79 academic year.
"After the fine experience I had at
Michigan, the least I could do was to
help perpetuate the program. It would
be tragic if the program couldn't con-
tinue and I can't think of a better place
to do it than U of M."
Winter mailed letters to former
fellows about the program's plight. The
response was overwhelming, he says.

ween the stipend and the journalist's
usual salary.
Fellows attend any undergraduate or
graduate courses they wish. They
aren't required to write papers or take
tests if they choose not to. Their spouses
are also permitted to audit classes free
of charge.
J oy Krause, 1981-82 fellow, believes
there are two ways of approaching

Fellow Deborah Saul: finding the sabbatical a challenge to develop new interests and skill

'The best people (in journalism) are
working for Michigan gratis, working for
the program to continue. That convinces
people of the program's worth.'
- Kenneth Winter
former fellow

and env
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After
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"I cre
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says. "'i
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He ac
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But un
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Hovey
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says, "I
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do so ma
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A simi
George
The Lou
most cha
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can set u

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"The best people (in journalism) are
working for Michigan gratis, working
for the program to continue. That con-
vinces people of the program's worth,"
Winter says. "They see good people
who have been there pushing for it, and
they think that if they're pushing it, it
must be worthwhile."
Some fellows who leave the program
go on to write investigative stories that
.are nominated for journalism awards.
Others move up the editorial ladder of
their newspapers. All are part of a high
caliber group when they begin the
program.
Last year over a hundred people ap-
pled for 10 fellowships. Each fellow
receives a monthly stipend of $2000. Of-
ten employers pay the difference bet-

learning during a sabbatical: "One is to
let yourself become more general, to
expand your horizons. The other is to
choose a specialty, which is a little
risky," she says.
Krause was a general feature writer
for The Milwaukee Journal when she
enrolled in the program. She studied art
and architecture with the goal of car-
ving an architectural beat for The
Journal. Nine months after returning to
The Journal, Krause was named art
and architecture critic, "I have this ex-
pertise now and they let me use it. It's
wonderful to have my own niche," she
says.
Another former fellow, Fred Brown,
a feature writer for the Knoxville News-
Sentinel, researched poverty, religion,

10 Weekend/Friday, February 22, 1985

Wgeekend/L~rid4

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