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A feast of words

The Chautauqua Poets Writers Series is hosting Robert Pinsky who served as poet laureate from 1997 to 2000. Pinsky will visit the Rogue Valley as part of the Chautauqua Poets Writers Series. He will give a talk and read from his work at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, at the Mountain Avenue Theatre, Ashland High School, 201 S. Mountain Ave., Ashland.

After an interview on Jefferson Public Radio's "Jefferson Exchange" Thursday morning, Pinsky will meet with teachers from the Rogue Valley at Southern Oregon University, and conduct a workshop with Ashland High School and Eagle Point High School students.

Recognized as an ambassador for poetry, Pinsky devised the Favorite Poem Project during his term as Poet Laureate. As part of the project, 18,000 Americans of varying backgrounds, ages, and from every state, shared their favorite poems. The anthology "Americans' Favorite Poems" is now in its 18th printing.

Pinsky is poetry editor for the online magazine Slate and writes a weekly "Poet's Choice" column for the Washington Post. He appeared regularly for seven years on the "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer." His landmark translation of "The Inferno" by Dante received the Los Angeles Times Book Award in poetry. He also has translated poems from the Yiddish and the poetry of Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz. He has written an opera libretto and completed "The Life of David" which explores the legacy of the scriptural hero. His book, "The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996," was a Pulitzer Prize nominee. "Gulf Music," published in 2007, is his seventh volume of poetry.

Tickets prices are: $25, patron; $15; general; $12 student with ID. Tickets are available at A Rug for All Reasons, Medford; OregonBooks, Grants Pass; and Bloomsbury Books, The Bookwagon, and Tree House Books in Ashland.

An Evening with Robert Bly and Daniel Deardorff, "The Dragons of Greed and the Woodcutter's Daughter" When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, Mountain Ave. Theatre, Ashland High School Robert Bly and Daniel Deardorff will use poetry, song, mythology and story telling to explore what these arts can offer in times of recession, war, climate change, and the clash of civilizations. The event, "The Dragons of Greed and the Woodcutter's Daughter," will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, at Ashland High School's Mountain Ave. Theatre, 201 S. Mountain Ave., Ashland.

Bly and Deardorff are leaders of the new myth movement that brings together the most current thinking from science, religion, psychology, and mythic studies. The two have worked together at conferences and workshops and will sing songs, recite poetry and tell old stories that shed light on today's political and cultural situation. The evening's topics will range from the war in Iraq to the quest for the grail to the relationship between male and female psychologies to the emergence of Islamic poetic forms and imagery in Bly's poetry.Bly is a poet, editor, translator, storyteller, and father of what he has called "the expressive men's movement." In 1966 he cofounded American Writers Against the Vietnam War and led much of the opposition among writers to that war. When he won the National Book Award for "The Light Around the Body," he contributed the prize money to the Resistance. During the 1970s he published 11 books of poetry, essays, and translations which celebrate the power of myth, Indian ecstatic poetry, meditation, and storytelling. During the '80s he published "Loving a Woman in Two Worlds," "The Winged Life: Selected Poems and Prose of Thoreau," "The Man in the Black Coat Turns," and "A Little Book on the Human Shadow." Bly's "Iron John: A Book About Men" is an international best seller which has been translated into many languages. In the early '90s, with James Hillman and Michael Meade he edited "The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart," an anthology of poems from the men's work. Since then he has edited "The Darkness Around Us Is Deep: Selected Poems of William Stafford," and "The Soul Is Here for Its Own Joy," a collection of sacred poetry from many cultures. He has recently published "The Maiden King: The Reunion of Masculine and Feminine" in collaboration with Marion Woodman.

Bly frequently conducts workshops for men with Hillman, Deardorff and others, and workshops for men and women with Woodman. Bly's honors include Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships.Deardorff is a "Singer" in the old sense of the word, which involves being a musician, a storyteller, and a maker of ritual. He has been a composer and a performing artist for more than three decades. As an independent scholar of myth, Deardorff's emphasis is on the process of myth-making and the expressive ways of performing those myths.

Deardorff observes in a press release that, "myths, poems, and songs are the greatest repository of wisdom available to humankind today. Myth informs us, not merely in the spoken word, but in gestures ... bringing the stuff of cultural vitality back to the human heart."

Founder of The Mythsinger Foundation, Deardorff creates programs devoted to "restoring the wisdom of myth to culture and community." For nearly a decade he has lead rites of passage camps for young men. He lives in Port Townsend, Washington and is the author of "The Other Within: The Genius of Deformity in Myth, Culture, Psyche." Bly and Deardorff are visiting Ashland as part of a documentary film project on the life and work of Deardorff being produced by Spirit World Films, a new documentary film company based in Ashland. Tickets are $25 in advance at Bloomsbury Books, Ashland; $30 at the door; and by calling 301-7469.