Campbell Corner Poetry

The Language Exchange

James McCorkle:

Remarks from the 1999 Reading

1999 Prize Poems -Sonnets

I would like to thank all of you for coming--and to thank Phillis Levin, David Baker, and Eavan Boland, the judges, for their generosity and support.

Most of all, I thank Sarah Lawrence College, Susan Guma, Carol Zoref, and especially the utter generosity of Elfie Raymond for creating this very special and significant award.

As this is the first occasion of the presentation of this award, Phillis asked if I would say a few words to introduce my work and the significance of the Campbell Corner Poetry Prize.

I am not aware of any other award or competition that seeks to celebrate poetry’s interconnections with philosophy, the life of myth, and the ways in which poetry moves across cultures: interests--indeed, passions--shared by many poets as well as Joseph Campbell, for whom this award is named.

Poetry is an examination of our life in myth. Poetry reminds us of our inescapable identities, yet in that recollection poetry offers a refuge in a thicket of language and rapture of speech.

Exploring the nature of memory, guilt and origins--conditions that have seemed always to have informed language and poetry--has long been a concern of my own work as well as that of many other poets from disparate cultures.

Hearing the poems read tonight underscores the ways myth, rhetoric, and philosophy are reinvigorated and re-configured by poetry--a necessary operation and one Joseph Campbell would applaud.