Cover image for Fooling with words : a celebration of poets and their craft
Fooling with words : a celebration of poets and their craft
Moyers, Bill D.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Morrow, [1999]

Physical Description:
xxiv, 230 pages ; 19 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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PN1042 .F58 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PN1042 .F58 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Fooling with Words is an intimate, inspirational celebration of language in its most exalted form and of the importance of poetry in our lives today. In dozens of poems and a series of fascinating conversations with poets of all stripes gathered for the acclaimed Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, Fooling with Words brings poetry to life for the reader.

Bill Moyers has been covering the poetry beat for more than a decade, and in the fall of 1998 he returned to the Dodge Festival with his public television cameras, capturing the performances of the poets, and, in interviews with them, their dazzling array of images, metaphors, and emotions. Coleman Barks not only reads from his translations of Rumi, but also shares the poems that he wrote in tribute to his "most beautiful granddaughter." Mark Doty talks with Moyers about "poetry's great power to preserve, its ability to take a moment in time and hold it forever." Jane Hirshfield talks about the influence on her poetry of the eight years she studied Zen, including three years in a monastery when she didn't write at all.

Moyers listens to these and other poets including Lorna Dee Cervantes, Deborah Garrison, Paul Muldoon, Marge Piercy, Kurtis Lamkin, Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Stanley Kunitz, and Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, and weaves another invaluable and enjoyable tapestry of poems with the memorable voices of the poets themselves. Anyone who loves poetry or is seeking a special gift will cherish Fooling with Words.

Author Notes

Bill Moyers was born in Hugo, Oklahoma, on June 5, 1934. He attended North Texas State College, the University of Texas at Austin, earning his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism in 1956, the University of Edinburgh in Scotland from 1956 to 1957 and the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas in 1959.

After college, Moyers joined the staff of Senator Lyndon B. Johnson as his personal assistant, from 1960 to 1961. From 1961 to 1962, Moyers was the associate director of public affairs for the Peace Corps, and deputy director of the Peace Corps in 1963. He later joined Johnson again, this time as special assistant to the President, from 1963 to 1967. He became the Press Secretary, in 1965 until 1967. That same year, he began as publisher of Newsday, holding the position until 1970. He then became producer and editor of the Bill Moyers' Journal for PBS from 1971-76, and an anchor for USA: People and Politics from 1978 till 1981. In 1976 he joined CBS as chief correspondent for CBS Reports for two years. He was the senior news analyst for CBS News from 1981 to 1986 and has been executive editor of Public Affairs Programming Inc. since 1986.

Over the course of his many years in journalism, Bill Moyers has earned and received many awards and honors, among them, an Honorary doctorate, from the American Film Institute; numerous Emmy Awards; the Ralph Lowell medal for contribution to public television; George Peabody awards, 1976, 1980, 1985-86, 1988-90; DuPont/Columbia Silver Baton award, 1979, 1986, 1988; Gold Baton award, 1991; and the George Polk awards, 1981, 1986.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

PBS crown jewel Bill Moyers took the 1998 Dodge Poetry Festival in Waterloo, New Jersey, as the occasion for a broadcast documentary, a video series, and a book of interviews smaller than but as engaging as his Language of Life (1995). He talks with 11 poets this time, one of them Irishman Paul Muldoon. They are a multicultural band, including Jewish nonagenarian Stanley Kunitz, Jewish radical feminist Marge Piercy, self-designated "ChicanIndian" Lorna Dee Cervantes, Malaysian Chinese immigrant Shirley Geok-Lin Lim, gay "AIDS widow" Mark Doty, former office-working girl Deborah Garrison, Zen Buddhist Jane Hirschfield, African American oral poet-musician Kurtis Lamkin, and a couple of straight but not conventional white males. And multiculturalism is not the best thing about them, taking a back seat to their articulateness about how and why they write poetry and about particular influences on it, such as Zen on Hirschfield's work and the religious ecstasy of Rumi on Coleman Barks, who has popularized the classic Persian poet more than any other English translator. --Ray Olson

Library Journal Review

Moyers here interviews 11 American poets (e.g., Robert Pinsky, Mark Doty, Shirley Geok-lin Lim, and Paul Muldoon) whose voices echo the diversity of the United StatesÄa wonderful jumble of genders, ethnic groups, and religions. This book is not a how-to; interviews (accompanied by the interviewee's poetry) focus on the poet as an individual, the creative process, and enjoying poetry and reveling in its sound. The interviews reveal the passion and focus the poets bring to their writing and how they transmute mundane occurrences into vital, meaningful life experiences. Based on a two-hour PBS documentary airing this fall and ten half-hour programs Moyer did at the Dodge Poetry Festival in fall 1998, this delightful book is highly recommended for all libraries. [BOMC featured selection.]ÄShana C. Fair, Ohio Univ. at Zanesville Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

YA-Moyers's fascination with poets in performance hasn't waned since he first visited the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in Waterloo, NJ, and documented what he found in the PBS series The Language of Life and its accompanying book (Doubleday, 1996). In this new volume-smaller in size but just as rich-he returns to the festival, offering the work of 11 poets, from established writers like Marge Piercy and Robert Pinsky to newcomer Deborah Garrison. Again Moyers interweaves his own voice with the voices of the poets as they read their work and discuss their lives. His perceptive questions and comments, and the poets' responses, place each poem in the context of the writer's life and illuminate the whole experience of writing. Both the art and the artists become more accessible. Teens open to the genre will find reflections of their own lives that will help them appreciate the work and the experience of others, and perhaps even move them to join in the creative process.-Jan Tarasovic, West Springfield High School, Fairfax County, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.