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The Language of Life: A Festival of Poets

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  407 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Poets live the lives all of us live," says Bill Moyers, "with one big difference. They have the power--the power of the word--to create a world of thoughts and emotions other can share. We only have to learn to listen."
In a series of fascinating conversations with thirty-four American poets, "The Language Of Life" celebrates language in its "most exalted, wrenching, delig
Hardcover, 450 pages
Published June 1st 1995 by Doubleday Books (first published 1995)
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Erin Muir
Aug 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of words
Shelves: poetry, favorites
At the time, I was entering into the nurturing world of the Open Mic. Thank god for Kieran's, and that jazz club in Saint Paul called the Artist Quarter, and people like Lenore and Chris Shillock and, later, Michael Quinn. Or else I'd be a mermaid in Lake Superior = my selkie self = not quite alive.

Okay, I will now dispense with my dramatic autobiography and tell you some of the reasons why this book deserves five stars:
1. Modern living poets
2. Bill Moyers interviews them
3. Samples of their poe
Zeynep Şen
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
We are so used to thinking of poetry as an academic, hard to understand branch that's only for those highly sophisticated minds. This book was a good reminder that this is not true in the slightest. Bill Moyers takes care to conduct each interview with poets as uniquely different from one another as possible. Yet each interview manages to prove that poetry is not only the "detached from life, only for the academics" entity that we've made out to be but it is in fact a bridge between people. Prom ...more
Bonnie Brandt
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
As someone who has not read a lot of poetry, I decided to read this book because it had a large number poets and interviews with the poets themselves. I enjoyed that there was such a range of types of poetry. All the poets though, are contemporary American poets. This was a very good first book of poetry to read.
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone and everybody
Recommended to Wayne by: the Muse of Poetry...who else??


I've always been a poetry fan.
Nursery Rhymes and song lyrics come unbidden when we are babes.
We are soon reciting or singing along.
My older sister reading poetry to her grandson
found a distinct alteration in his behaviour when she went from prose to poetry.
It's rhythm really caught his attention in eyes, expression and gesture.

When we were teenagers she had received a Complete Works of Tennyson for Xmas
and we took it with us to the beach that Summer to read,
loving the stories,the
Jul 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Who knew that poets are just people too? Bill Moyers does a superb job of cracking poetry's hard veneer to reveal mere mortals on the inside at the Dodge Poetry Festival. He welcomes us to think twice about what poetry can offer.

In the same fashion as Moyer's famed Power of Myth interview with Joseph Campbell, the thirty-four interviews in The Language of Life were originally viewed on PBS, then written into a companion book.

The writers discuss what poetry means to them personally and what they
Jan 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, 2009-reading
This was a wonderful book for someone like myself who is a reader of, but not a writer of poetry. Moyers interviews a number of contemporary poets on the art and process of writing poetry. You are given a deeper sense of who these writers are, and each is represented by a half dozen or so of their poems.

I found myself with a deeper understanding of a number of poets whose work I already knew such as Donald Hall, Galway Kinnell, Gary Snyder, Stanley Kunitz, and Sharon Olds. Even better, I was ab
May 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone with a new interest in poetry, or a fan of one of the interviewed poets.
Shelves: poetry
Moyers converses with poets of widely varied backgrounds and styles, making this a good read for anyone looking to expose themselves to modern verse.

Each interview is accompanied by samples of the poet's work, and an extensive appendix provides suggestions for future reading.

There were a few moments when I became frustrated with Moyers' line of questioning about a particular poem, but good poems are open to multiple interpretations, and good readers should be open to them as well.
Keely Hyslop
Apr 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I got this book for a class I ended up dropping and did not appreciate it in the slightest for many years. The book has a few poems, but is mostly comprised of interviews with poets. Being a book pack rat the book stayed on my shelf unopened, until I started taking an interest in how contemporary poets approach their poetry and what their influences are. This is a useful little book and can teach you more than a thing or two about poetics.
Nov 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is the soundtrack to my life. I own several copies: hard copy, digital and audio. Quite honestly, I love this book. This book led me to the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival where I met, really MET and talked with some of the greatest poetic minds of our time. I am still in awe and quite awed.
Jun 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: writers, poets, high schoolers
Recommended to Stanley by: PBS Television
This book is one of the best compilations of poems and interviews I've ever read. It is so wonderful to read a poem and then get direct insight from the writer as to how they wrote it, why they wrote it and what really inspired them. It is a great teaching book for anyone who is trying to write poetry or any style of writing, music as well.
Feb 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
If you love poetry, this is a must for your bookshelf. I get it out sporadically just to reconnect with that world. Modern poets are not given the same respect of course as the dead poets, but he does an amazing job of interviewing them not only about their poetry, but about why they wrote what they wrote. EXCELLENT
Aug 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you are a poetry fan, this book is a must for you. It is one of the first poetry books - maybe even the very first - that I ever bought for myself. After seeing Moyers' PBS special, in which, I received my first introduction to Naomi Shihab Nye (thank you, Mr Moyers!), I knew I neded to own this book, and it has been cherished ever since.
Donna Jean
Sep 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Moyers has a way of taking the intangable and bringing it out into the light. The interviews really made these living poets just regular everyday people. Knowing the poet helps to understand the poetry. Once you can truly identify with the poetry on more than a literal level it becomes meaningful and enjoyable. I admire Moyers' skill organizing such a project into this book.
Oct 31, 2007 rated it really liked it
the master moyers.
excellent interviews with, and poems by, various poets at the big festival. great questions and wonderful insight into the minds and processes of some of the greatest contemporary poets out there.
John Fredrickson
Jan 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I was looking forward to reading this, but found it disappointing. I have difficulty with reading a lot of modern poetry, and this was no exception. The poets/poetry felt very self-absorbed ('this-is-my-heritage'/ 'this-is-my-world').
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I can't recommend this book enough. The poets represented are fabulous, but really makes this book for me is the interviews with Bill Moyers. He asks fascinating questions and the answers are inspiring!
Jan Praxel
Feb 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of poetry
I love this book. It is an anthology of poets edited by Bill Moyers. He interviews each poet asking them about their works. I pick this up all the time and reread sections. I can't recommend it enough to lovers of poetry.
Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book introduced me to poets I hadn't known before - to their lives, their personalities. Bill Moyers himself has a lovely way of speaking as he writes. He makes poetry more accessible in this book.
Dec 15, 2009 rated it liked it
If you never went to the "woodstock of poetry" this book captures a segment and the spirit.
Nov 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
i had to buy this as a textbook once. it has amazing poems-------
Apr 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
This has been on my nightstand for the past 10 years. I love this book and re-read often~
Mark Wargo
Aug 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Contains one of my favorite poems "Ask Me"
Dusie Press
Sep 25, 2007 rated it liked it
I liked these when they first came out and were still considered, new media! I had to view them at the LRC, via video-tape.... :0
Sep 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Starting in on my second reading of this wonderful collection of poetry.
D Mcglauflin
Feb 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A veritable feast of poets and poetry! I savored every word.
Aug 07, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bought-2014
used audiobook
Elizabeth Clark
May 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of the BEST books for teaching poetry EVER!!!
May 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, poetry
An old friend and sometime companion. Some of the poems are my particular favourites, but they're all worth reading and rereading.
Aug 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An amazing group of poets. If you have the chance, hear the audio. The music of the poets reading is amazing.
Danielle DeTiberus
This is a great collection of interviews with poets from Bill Moyers, one of my heroes!
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Billy Don "Bill" Moyers is an American journalist and public commentator. He served as White House Press Secretary in the United States President Lyndon B. Johnson Administration from 1965-1967. He worked as a news commentator on television for ten years. Moyers had an extensive involvement with public television, producing documentaries and news journal programs. He has won numerous awards and ho ...more
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