New York poet Robert Milby to read at CACWritten by Patrick Timmis | | email@example.com
Upstate New York poet Robert Milby will perform at 8:30 p.m. July 19 at The Collingwood Arts Center.
When he was young, Milby wanted to be an English teacher. He grew up reading Victorian writers like Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Matthew Arnold and Alfred Lord Tennyson. He began writing his own poetry in the summer of 1987, when he was a junior in high school.
He has been writing constantly on diverse subjects ever since.
“I’m known in the Hudson Valley as principally a political and social writer of social conciousness,” Milby said. “But I’m not an agitator.”
He is also a fan of ghost stories. The Hudson Valley, where he lives, has many purportedly haunted sites and the concept fascinates him, he said,
“I’m interested in Gothic literature in the true sense of it, not modern Goth clubs where there are young people with makeup dancing,” Milby said.
Milby is an instructor for the Northeast Poetry Center’s College of Poetry workshop series. The nonprofit organization holds the classes at Utopian Direction bookstore and gallery in Warwick, N.Y.
Milby said the series is intended for enrichment of poets at any skill level. The group tries to regularly have a well-known poet as a guest. Anne Waldman, who Milby called one of the younger Beat poets, will be visiting the group in March.
Milby criticizes the politically correct minimalism and deconstructionism that he said pervades university literature studies.
“A lot of modern poetry is experiential, it’s coming from the concept of journaling and people exploring their emotions through, in some cases, counseling and so on,” he said. “Now, I have no problem with that, but I have a problem with anything written on the page — if it expresses your emotions — passing as poetry.”
This experiential poetry is acceptable and mainstream because it is safe, he said.
“We would not have an Edgar Allen Poe or a Beethoven or a Murrow if there were no risks,” he said. “I see a decided lack of originality in a lot of modern poetry.”
Milby will read a sampling of political, social, ghost and gothic poems at the performance. He began reading publicly when he was about 24, and many of his listeners were young people, he said. That has changed as he has grown older.
“The audiences are graying,” he said.
Milby’s published works include a chapbook titled “Crow Weather,” a book of poetry titled “Ophelia’s Offspring” and “Ghost Prints: Tales of Terror and Poetry” in collaboration with Jason and Tammy Gehlert. “Victorian House: Ghosts and Gothic Poems” is set for publication for this year.