This post originally appeared on the Library as Incubator Project in June 2014.

Today I’m pleased to welcome Charles Bane, Jr. to the Library as Incubator Project. Mr. Bane is a poet whose work is influenced by literature, and for whom libraries have played an important role in the inspiration for and promotion of his poetry. Enjoy! ~ Laura

Library as Incubator Project (LAIP): Please introduce yourself; tell us who you are, and what sort of creative work you make, and how you got started making art.

Charles Bane (CB): I’m a poet living in South Florida where I’m a current nominee as Poet Laureate of our state. I have two published collections of poetry: The Chapbook (Curbside Splendor, 2011) and the newly released Love Poems (Aldrich Press, 2014). The Huffington Post described my first collection as “not only standing on the shoulders of giants, but shrinking them.” The book came to the notice of past U.S. Poet Laureate Donald Hall and we wrote one another for nearly a year, until illness forced a halt. Hall was the first Poetry Editor of The Paris Review and I donated our letters to them, where they’re archived.

I created and contribute to The Meaning Of Poetry Series for The Gutenberg Project. My recent release, Love Poems, is being entered for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize. I began writing poetry very early, which is common, I think, to determined poets.

When I phoned Richard Wilbur, a past Poet Laureate of the United States to ask him to endorse my new book, he good naturedly asked me when I was first published. I replied I was twelve. “Latecomer!”, Wilbur laughed. He was published at eight.

Cover of "Love Poems" by Charles Bane, Jr. (Aldrich Press, 2013).

Cover of “Love Poems” by Charles Bane, Jr. (Aldrich Press, 2013).


LAIP: What is your relationship to libraries? How have they influenced or affected your creative work?

CB: Libraries have played a profound role in my love of language and as a resource for research for The Gutenberg Project. My late father was a miner’s son who had to return from The University of Chicago to his native Springfield Illinois to support his family during the Great Depression. He scythed wheat. The local librarian contrived to find him work in the library, away from the fields. He eventually returned to the University of Chicago, won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford and finished his studies at Harvard Law School. When he later wrote a legal text, the book was dedicated to the Springfield librarian.

My new release, Love Poems, is being carried on the shelves of the Palm Beach County Library System in a pilot program to introduce Florida authors to the general public.

LAIP: What authors or titles do you turn to when you are looking for inspiration?

CB: Two books, in particular, stand out as influences on my work: Venetian Vespers by Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Hecht, and Geography lll by Elizabeth Bishop. Bishop was a genius, and was, to me, the finest poet of the 20th century.

LAIP: As an artist, what would your “ideal” library look or be like? What would it have in it?

CB: Many Americans don’t know we are in a golden age of literary journals and small presses. There are hundreds of them, like wildflowers, and they’re publishing a new generation of gifted fiction writers and poets.

Publishing is becoming increasingly corporate and concentrated, and the popular titles they promote through the media outlets, that are often part of their own corporate powerhouses, leave little room for new literary talent to be recognized. Literary journals and, in particular, small presses can’t compete with their advertising dollars and public relations apparatus. Public libraries can play a game-changing role by seeking out the best small presses  and carrying their output on their shelves.

Read more about Charles Bane, Jr.’s poetry in the Huffington Post.  

For My Son, CBjr
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