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Literary Witnesses

Plymouth's Literary Witnesses program brings renowned authors, poets and journalists to the church for stimulating programs. Bill Moyers, Gary Snyder and Robert Bly have been recent presenters. The series is now in its 15th year.

Pattiann Rogers, a rapturous voice of nature and theology, read from her poetry April 28, 2014. Audio of the reading [MP3]

Kim Stafford read from Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems by William Stafford, poetry by his father that he selected and edited, on Jan. 27, 2014. [MP3] recording of the reading.

Susan Deborah "Sam" King discussed and read from her newest book of poetry, Dropping into the Flower, on Nov. 17, 2013. [MP3] recording of the reading

Prize-winning Zen poet, translator and essayist Jane Hirshfield
read April 15, 2013.

Sherman Alexie, award-winning Native American poet and writer, spoke on Nov. 12, 2012.

Nature poet John Caddy
read on Oct. 22, 2012. Recording of his reading [MP3]

Joyce Sutphen, Minnesota's Poet Laureate, read her own works on Feb. 5, 2012.

Jim Lenfestey, "A View of Cold Mountain through Poetry and Film" Feb. 26, 2012
[MP3] audio of the reading

Marilyn Nelson, Frost Award winner, read at Plymouth May 21, 2012. [MP3] Recording of reading

Literary Witnesses' 10-year anthology

Literary Witnesses is a program of the Fine Arts Board.


Literary Witnesses
James Lenfestey, Seeking the Cave
Sept. 22, 7 p.m.

Literary Witnesses will celebrate the publication by Milkweed Editions of Plymouth member James Lenfestey’s memoir Seeking the Cave: A Pilgrimage to Cold Mountain, with a reading on Monday, Sept. 22, at 7 p.m. in Guild Hall.  A reception will follow the free event, with books available from Birchbark Books.

Seeking the Cave details Lenfestey’s 30-year love affair with the ancient Chinese poet Han-shan, or Cold Mountain, culminating in a journey across China to find the legendary Cold Mountain cave. Exploring the history of Chinese poetry and religion as he goes—from the enormous chanting hall of ten thousand Buddhas in Bailin Temple to the birthplace of Confucius—Lenfestey’s road-trip becomes a pilgrimage through language, landscape and memory.  In the end he discovers not only the cave he seeks, but the transformative power of poetry to express the “incomprehensible joy” of life.

Sam King, founder of Literary Witnesses, says of Seeking the Cave: "Anyone who has longed to find deep self-acceptance and simple gratitude for being, anyone who has struggled with the promptings of one’s own spirit over against the demands of the world, anyone seeking peace amid environmental devastations or hoping for human connection across cultures and traditions will find a profound and lively companion between the pages of this beautiful book." 

Macalaster professor and poet Wang Ping says, "We should all read or, rather, experience Seeking the Cave, a journey wild, magical, quantum-leaping—a pilgrimage we must take if we want to know who we are, why we are here, where our home is." Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Gary Snyder calls it " A profound, and profoundly personal book."

James P. Lenfestey (photo by Larry Risser)  is a teacher, journalist and poet. He has published five books of poetry, a collection of personal essays, and co-edited a collection of essays on the career of Robert Bly. He chairs the Literary Witnesses poetry series.

Literary Witnesses, a program of the Fine Arts Board, presents renowned poets to Twin Cities audiences, including Ted Kooser, Mary Oliver, Gary Snyder, Pattiann Rogers and Robert Bly. The series is now in its 15th year.





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