Making it a Movie
On Human Guinea Pigs

Link Roundup: Mary Oliver in concert, Bob Herbert on Poverty, Suzanne Strempek Shea's Religious Roadtrip

Eight of Mary Oliver's poems were set to music by Ronald Perera and performed by the The New Amsterdam Singers this past Sunday afternoon. From the New York Times:

Ms. Oliver’s poetry, which has drawn comparisons to the work of Emerson and Thoreau, reveals an awestruck regard of nature that verges on the religious: “What wretchedness, to believe only in what can be proven,” she writes in “I Looked Up,” the fifth poem in Mr. Perera’s cycle. Her work also demonstrates a discerning eye and an ability to render vivid images with a few deft strokes.

Mr. Perera sensitively underscores both attributes in a cycle spanning a day from one dawn to the next, linked by a subtle, recurring four-note motif. His music neatly conjures Ms. Oliver’s rippling pond, wary crows, flitting bats and lazily unspooling snake. At the same time, the work’s dramatic progression, from the shivering anticipation of “Morning at Great Pond” to the radiant affirmation of the concluding title poem, “Why I Wake Early,” does justice to the poet’s more transcendental intents. Enhanced by Mr. Perera’s estimable knack for setting English, this is a substantial addition to the choral canon.

Listen to an excerpt of "Why I Wake Early" on Mr. Perera's website.

Bob Herbert, in an op-ed about our current economic mess, quotes John Edwards' introduction to The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near-Poor in America:

“When we set about fixing welfare in the 1990s, we said we were going to encourage work. Near-poor Americans do work, usually in jobs that the rest of us do not want — jobs with stagnant wages, no retirement funds, and inadequate health insurance, if they have it at all. While their wages stay the same, the cost of everything else — energy, housing, transportation, tuition — goes up.”

The Springfield, MA, Republican (the paper, not the party) ran a piece about Suzanne Strempek Shea's ambitious and illuminating adventure that resulted in the forthcoming Sundays in America: A Yearlong Road Trip in Search of Christian Faith. Suzanne has posted here about two of the churches she visited (Christmas Eve in Bethlehem and Barack Obama's Church) and this Sunday we'll run another about St. Patrick's Day at All Saints Episcopal in Brookline, MA.