Don Junkins, 1970s

“New England as Region and Idea: Looking over the Tafferel of Our Craft”

Excerpt of speech to the Phi Beta Kappa Society at UMASS, 1986

“I’m interested in the way the universe reveals itself to me, not in a grandly philosophical or theological way, but in my own town and my neighbors’ backyards, whether those backyards are literally New England or not. The lyric poem tries to negotiate overtones into an earned context in which setting and imagery and rhythms generate meanings. In the deepest sense, the act of composition is an act of discovery, and the function of a poem in a poet’s life is to re-formulate the specific character of unconscious knowledge, to bring one form of the poet’s experience into the presence of another form. The shapings that cooperate in the lining of a poem not only guide the direction of the experiencing, but help generate the content that unravels out of the original gesture of the poem’s beginning. The poem is born out of itself, but it becomes what it already was meant to be, as Frank Stockton’s Bee Man of Orne discovers after his journey-quest for his original self, that in his transformed state he has only become what he always has been. As Rilke says of the patience of lovers, in the first Duino Elegy,

as the arrow endures the string, to become, in

    the gathering out-leap,

something more than itself. For staying

    is nowhere.

      (p. 23, trans. Lcishman and Spender, Norton: New York, 1939)

The insight clarifies the structural genesis of poetry. A poem grows out of infinite patience, and the slight stirring of an inner wind. Words occur in the inner ear, and magic casements open. Invisible hands move curtains, and more words occur. The poem accepts its own domain. There must be place, whether internal or external. If the regional writer is successful, ideas take their places: the regionality of the art is transformed into a primal enactment of mythical or archetypal human landscape. No writer is minor because of setting; no writer is major because of them. Only language transforms.”

Donald Junkins interviewed by Robert Bagg, ca. 1971

Discussing the tone and style of Junkins’s poetry and his evolution from a free verse poet to a formal poet. Includes a reading of Junkins’s poem, “Crossing by ferry.”

Robert Bagg interviewed by Donald Junkins, November 16, 1971

Donald Junkins reads his pomes at The Presidents Hall in Shuman Hall on the Rockland Campus of Nyack College.  April 6, 2011

On the evening of 6 April 2011, poet Donald Junkins gave a reading of his poetry and prose in The Presidents Hall in Shuman Hall on the Rockland Campus of Nyack College. Junkins included poems from many parts of his career, including The Cleveland Avenue poems and new work from his recent volume Swans Island Buoys and Other Lines. He also read a short chapter from his 2010 novel, Half Hitch. The poet was introduced by Professor Brad McDuffie.


Donald Junkins Reads his Poems, April 7, 2009 (Part 1)

On 7 April 2009, Donald Junkins gave a poetry reading in Pardington Hall on the Rockland campus of Nyack College. The reading was introduced by Prof. Brad McDuffie, and Junkins read and commented on his poems for more than an hour. Most of the poems were from his Cleveland Avenue poetry sequence—poems that reflect on his childhood and on his experiences from those years. He rarely has read those poems in sequence in recent years, so this was a particular treat for the audience. From the front row, I filmed his reading of the poems, only occasionally including his explanations.

Donald Junkins Reads his Poems, April 7, 2009 (Part 2)

© Donald Junkins