Reading Heather McHugh a student finds deep connection

May 31, 2013

By: Stanzi Vaubel, UniVerse of Poetry

(Courtesy: MacArthur Foundation)
Poet Heather McHugh
At the beginning of The Gift series, Rachel Jamison Webster sent this email to series producer Stanzi Vaubel:
 
"Stanzi, I would like you to contact a student of mine, Charlotte Malin.  I want to get a recording of her reciting a poem, called 'What He Said' by Heather McHugh.  She recited it with great feeling in my class, and said, 'When I read it, it just spoke to me. It is just MY poem.' Such conviction. The poem is about everything we are talking about – the mystery that surrounds us at all times, the sustaining energy in what cannot be said, and the surprise when we see past appearances in others. The poet-speaker has dismissed this other poet as just a poetic diplomat, a serving figure, but he turns out to be the most profound one of all."
 
Student Charlotte Malin has decided to take the risk, trust the poem, and let it enter her. Listen as she claims this poem as her own, reminding us that a poem is not complete until it has found its reader.
 
Charlotte Malin is student at Northwestern University.  Heather McHugh is a MacArthur Award Winning Poet and author of more than ten books, including Eyeshot, which was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize; The Father of Predicaments; and Hinge & Sign: Poems 1968-1993, a finalist for the National Book Award named a "Notable Book of the Year" by the New York Times Book Review. She used her MacArthur Award winnings to create CareGifted, which provides retreats for caregivers of handicapped spouses and children.
 
First launched in April 2013 to celebrate National Poetry Month, WBEZ now continues our weekly series, The Gift – produced by Stanzi Vaubel and curated by Rachel Jamison Webster, author of September: Poems. This project is a collaboration with UniVerse of Poetry, a station partner that aims to celebrate poets from every nation in the world.  Each piece drops us into a poets’ inner life, reminding us of the gift of being human among others.