Richard Wilbur is a former United States Poet Laureate and the only writer since Robert Frost to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry twice. In this recording from the 2003 Key West Literary Seminar, Wilbur reads and comments upon numerous poems, translations, lyrics, and light verse spanning his career.
Wilbur begins the reading with two poems, “The Reader” and “Man Running,” from the then-unpublished Collected Poems, 1943-2004, and continues with “A Barred Owl,” “For Charlee,” Valeri Petrov’s “A Cry from Childhood,” and “This Pleasing Anxious Being,” all from Mayflies. From 1989’s New and Collected Poems, Wilbur chooses “The Ride,” “Lying,” “On Having Mis-identified a Wild Flower,” Vinicius de Moraes’s “Song,” and “Hamlen Brook”; from The Mind-Reader, he reads “The Writer” and “A Wedding Toast.” Wilbur’s early collections Ceremony, Things of This World, and Advice to a Prophet are represented by “Museum Piece,” “Love Calls Us to the Things of This World,” “Two Voices in a Meadow,” and “Pangloss’s Song: A Comic-Opera Lyric,” written for the 1956 musical version of Voltaire’s Candide, which Wilbur collaborated on with Lillian Hellman and Leonard Bernstein. Wilbur’s reading concludes with several humorous poems, including “A Late Aubade,” the two-part “Flippancies” (including “The Star System” and “What’s Good for the Soul Is Good for Sales”), “To His Skeleton,” “The Prisoner of Zenda,” and several verses from his book for children, The Disappearing Alphabet.
Wilbur’s hourlong reading was given in memory of John Malcolm Brinnin, an influential early KWLS organizer. In a brief (1:26) introduction, program chair Irving Weinman discusses Brinnin and the regular game of Anagrams he played with Brinnin and Wilbur.
Wilbur joins us again in January 2010 as our guest of honor for Clearing the Sill of the World.
From KWLS 2003: The Beautiful Changes