She Walks in Poetry: Caroline Kennedy at ALOUD

The author and poetry fan discusses her latest collection for kids with L.A.’s poet laureate

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Whoever claims that poetry is dead (or dying or doomed to extinction) has never witnessed the power of celebrity for an underappreciated art form. Last night, the Library Foundation of Los Angeles’ ALOUD series welcomed an overflowing crowd to hear lawyer and author (and political royalty) Caroline Kennedy speak with L.A. poet laureate Eloise Klein Healy about her collection for children, Poems to Learn by Heart.

Kennedy is the author of ten New York Times bestsellers including She Walks in Beauty and The Best Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Her latest effort features illustrated selections from Lewis Caroll, Rudyard Kipling, A.A. Milne, W. H. Auden, William Butler Yeats, Langston Hughes, William Blake, Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Bishop, Stephen Crane, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and the book of Micah. In between student readings and audience questions, Kennedy discussed her mother’s passion for words, why Republican presidents don’t like inaugural poems, and her rumored ambassadorship to Japan.

On her mother’s love of poetry
“Her love of literature and ideas and words was something that was part of her. It was really integrated into our family life. She grew up in a time when people had to memorize Bible verses and Shakespeare sonnets in school. She used to go on Wednesday afternoon and have tea with her grandfather and they read poems together. It was something that was important to her in terms of passing that on… The media just focused on her style and her sunglasses, and it really wasn’t what made her the person that she was. That was something she shared with my father. For both of them, it really set them on their life’s path.”

On information overload
“Poetry really has an ability to allow us to distinguish the authentic voice and authentic information. With so much information coming at kids, that’s one of the reasons it is so powerful, because it does cut through all that kind of sound bytes and allow emotion and truth to escape. That’s one of the reasons I’ve kept going with these anthologies, to expose kids to words and language in these ways.”

On poetry and politics
Healy noted, “With the exception of Lyndon Johnson, every Democrat since JFK—and no Republican—has had an inaugural poet. Can you speculate on why that would be so?”

Kennedy deadpanned, “Maybe there aren’t any Republican poets.” Over laughs, she continued: “Poetry is about freedom of thought, freedom to dissent, and following your conscience. Perhaps some people don’t want someone to get up at the inauguration and say what they really think.”

On a recent LA Times editorial criticizing her possible nomination as American ambassador to Japan
“Well, I don’t really have anything to say about it at all, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.” (You can read the original Times editorial as well as the irked letters it prompted.)

Asked to read aloud one of her favorite poems, Kennedy chose Auden’s “Leap Before You Look,” which begins:

The sense of danger must not disappear:

The way is certainly both short and steep,

However gradual it looks from here;

Look if you like, but you will have to leap.

You can read the full text of Auden’s poem here and listen to a complete podcast of the event here.

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Comments

  1. maria2013

    April 18, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    President John F. Kennedy never wed/sexed Jacqueline Bouvier. That means that Mrs. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg is not the daughter of President John F. Kennedy and John John is not the son of President John F. Kennedy. President John F. Kennedy, like Rosemary Kennedy, was a repeat kidnappee of disgraced former Ambassador to England Joe Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. Misleading captions were attached to photos of the man who became US Senator and 35th President of the United States.

  2. maria2013

    April 18, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Regarding the poem selected by Mrs. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, the woman who lies about being related to President John F. Kennedy. (President John F. Kennedy never wed/sexed Jacqueline Bouvier.) The poem selected by Mrs. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg that you published at lamag.com, April 10, 2013 titled Leap Before You Look and begins with

    The sense of danger must not disappear:
    The way is certainly both short and steep,
    However gradual it looks from here;
    Look if you like, but you will have to leap.

    and ends with
    A solitude ten thousand fathoms deep
    Sustains the bed on which we lie, my dear:
    Although I love you, you will have to leap;
    Our dream of safety has to disappear.

    – W. H. Auden

    A now retired Brigadier General spoke at a Conference last week and said that all people are expected to not compromise trust/breech trust. What is your friend Mrs. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg up to? What is the meaning of the poem?

  3. msnoname

    April 19, 2013 at 1:34 am

    Please note that the Caroline Kennedy in your article is of no relation to President John F. Kennedy’s actual daughter who has not been addressed as Caroline Kennedy since November 22, 1963. President John F. Kennedy’s actual daughter studied medicine through Harvard, her father’s alma mater. President John F. Kennedy’s actual does not practice medicine or consult since being injured from one of the attempts on her life. President John F. Kennedy’s actual daughter has no claims against her. Please note that Mrs. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg is not the daughter of President John F. Kennedy. President John F. Kennedy never wed/sexed media-famous Jacqueline Bouvier. President John F. Kennedy, like Rosemary Kennedy, was a repeat kidnappee of Joe Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald. President John F. Kennedy & his actual daughter and her family are all healthy. President John F. Kennedy’s actual daughter, like her father, has been kidnapped/concealed most of her life and is kidnapped from her husband and their progeny these past decades. She is sufficiently recovered from the last attempt on her life and waits patiently to be reunited with her husband and their children. She is anticipating to be based in Washington, DC.]
    For your archives, here is a sample of the poetry of President John F. Kennedy’s actual daughter (Mrs. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg is not the daughter of President John F. Kennedy), one poem from 2005 and her most recent poem. You will notice the poetry of President John F. Kennedy’s actual daughter has not changed much over the years.

    Inconsolable Sorrow

    Born between heaven and earth
    Afloat on a river of stars
    Who knows whose child this is
    This dear ancestor of the gods

    She reaches the Isle of Immortals
    Beyond the expansive Celestial Sea
    She picks the mauve blossoms of the courtyard tree
    You are too far away for her to send them

    She devotes songs to her ancestors
    She sings the clean fragrance of their virtue
    The main melody shifts and varies
    With the lingering omnipresent sadness

    She sleeps alone on Empty Mountain
    Perfect Woman going after nothing
    Responding, but not storing, staying empty
    She sees their faces in her dreams

    They stay not long in her bedchamber
    Leaving dreams quickly
    The singer’s inconsolable sorrow
    Mourns how few truly comprehend.

    © 2005 President John F. Kennedy’s Actual Daughter that not being Mrs. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, poseur of media fame

    Country Living in April 2013

    Polished presentation and witty ways
    Décolleté displaying bursting beautiful blooms
    Portrait collar; ceramic portrait bust
    Adorned with an elaborate brooch

    Style that makes you feel at home
    Warm, homey, sustainable style
    For an endless summer
    A rejuvenating break from routine

    Country comfort style that feels at home
    Heartening collection of relics
    Hand-lithographed beauties
    Armoire of reclaimed barn wood

    Sterling utensils verging on extravagance
    Wicker containers warm, homey sustainable style
    Worn materials add warmth and history
    Terrariums echo the verdant landscape beyond the window

    Vintage finds: Antique cabinet with many nooks and crannies
    Milk glass or opal glass popular at the Fin de siècle
    A rendering of four clock faces at Grand Central Terminal
    Secret door leading to a staircase to a lower level information booth

    Carrier pigeon ribbon looped around the bird’s right front leg
    Perching within a cage in a witty way
    Woman’s devoted terrier, busy tail wags and a snuggle
    A Zuni fetish kept in its fetish bowl when not in use

    On the subject of feeding, it is believed from tradition
    That the buffalo Zuni fetish requires a meal of cornmeal
    And ground turquoise periodically
    A part of the lore of eco-couture

    Its tiny turquoise horns meaning
    That he, or she, who owns a turquoise,
    Will never want for a friend
    The buffalo is associated with strength and sustenance

    Buffalo help heal the Spirit
    The buffalo are coming
    “Buffalo Nation, the People are depending upon you,
    so we pray you will be healthy” goes a Lakota song

    ‘Moonflower’ morning glories
    Frame the garden’s iron gate entrance
    Wrap around porch hugging the home
    A handmade oak swing sways in the breeze

    Mexican feather grass and Japanese silver grass
    Fringe casual grassy paths and
    Unify ‘Blushing Bride’ hydrangeas
    With ‘Golden Celebration’ roses

    © 2013 President John F. Kennedy’s Actual Daughter that not being Mrs. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, poseur of media fame