Ask-a-Poet feb. 2013

The question for this month: If you could bring back to life 3-5 historical/literary/musical/artistic/spiritual/sports/TV-movie persons and invite them to dinner, which ones would you choose? Family members are excluded. If you wish, you could add a short explanation of your choices. Or, you could include a question you would ask your guests. Perhaps you'd like to share something you would tell them.

Julia Child, Erma Bombeck , Mark Twain, Vivian Maier, and Ursula Nordstrom  
As it stands now, Julia will arrive the day before to give us time to source the ingredients for dinner. The other guests have graciously offered to pitch and help cook. Vivian will bring her camera; as soon as her film is processed and the prints are dry, we’ll post digital scans of our party-day photos on Facebook. Twain will tweet.
~Kristine George

1. Erik Satie. I would ask him to play “Gnossiennes,” and if he was amenable, “Trois Gymnopédies.” I'd also love to see his small drawings.
2. Kafka. Dinner perhaps, but then a brisk walk with him down a busy city street in Amerika.
3. Paul Klee. Teacher of teachers, a painter's painter, and so much more.
4. Scarlett Johansson. She knows why.
5. Dorothy Parker. To match wits, and other body parts.
~Douglas Florian

Just the thought of this makes me giggle, I confess, imagining somber Willa Cather (one of my chosen) studying my microwave with suspicion.  I’d also be totally tongue-tied, and apt to just sit and stare at these worthy people, drinking in all the details of their dress, their manner, their intelligence--so that I could write about it later!  At any rate, I would choose the aforementioned Willa Cather (My Antonia), Sarah Orne Jewett (Country of the Pointed Firs) and Henry Beston (The Outermost House).  I’m drawn to the three of them because they were outsiders in society and loved wild places, seeking solace from them.  And I would ask each of them: What gives you joy?  Where do you feel kinship?  What have been your happiest moments?  Because I have a feeling their answers to these questions would be similar to mine.
~Joyce Sidman

1. Cole Porter--because he wrote a majority of my favorite songs, both music and lyrics (From "I Get a Kick Out of You":  "Flying too high with some guy in the sky is my idea of nothing to do..."  Five internal rhymes!)
2. Dorothy Fields--who wrote a lot of remarkable lyrics, including "I Won't Dance."  As the also wonderful Betty Comden said about her, "She was THE woman songwriter."
3. Eleanor Powell--a divine dancer, especially in tap, who even trained her Jack Russell terrier to do a number with her.  How???
4. William Shakespeare--does this even need an explanation?
5. Alex the Parrot--I think he'd add to the conversation in more ways than one.
~Marilyn Singer

1. Charles Causley (Did you read American poetry? If so, did you hold it in high regard?)
2. Nikolai Bukharin (Was there one virtuous human being among the Bolsheviks?)
3. Senator Joseph McCarthy (“[Had] you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, [had] you . . . no sense of decency?”)
~J. Patrick Lewis

Emily Dickinson, Isak Dinesen, and Angela Carter. I'd ask them what they thought of the words Poetess and authoress and if they felt diminished or enhanced by such words.
~Jane Yolen

I would invite Fred Astaire, Mark Twain, Gene Kelly, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Paul Newman. And my after dinner question for each of them would be, "May I have this dance?"
~Sonya Sones

I would invite Langston Hughes, Henry David Thoreau, Jack Kerouac, and Emily Dickinson. The last 3 could talk about Massachusetts.
~Naomi Shihab Nye

Neil Tillotson -
U. Utah Phillips -
ee cummings -

My red balloon floats away
I follow after it
craning my neck like a bird
whispering, come back, come back

Thank you for balloons, Neil Tillotson,
though they can cause trouble
if we don't hold them fast
if we don't clean them up

thank you
for this
chasing, whispering, hoping
red balloon day.

We sing together in circles,
Utah Phillips ahead on the trail.
Rumor has it you'll gladly teach us
your Starlight on the Rails ~

anyone everywhere eagerly wonders
why (so why with
cloud with sky)
knitting of wordsthat don't go together
an ee cummingsly sweater
why I ask in your dinglingly glow
capital letters
why are there no?
~ April Halprin Wayland

I would invite Walt Whitman, Thomas Merton, Ella Fitzgerald. I think Walt and Thomas would be fast friends. I hope I’d have the courage to ask Ella do a little of her trademark scatting to something from the American songbook. Maybe I’d invite Miles Davis, even though I suspect he would sit with his back turned to the group.
~Paul B. Janeczko

Read Also
Ask-A-Poet Nov. 2012
Where the question was, "What would you like to be doing if you weren't a poet?