An ESP Poetry Tale: The Kenneth Rexroth Symposium at KUIS

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

As April is U.S. National Poetry month, I was asked to submit a poetry-related blog post. I actually do have an ESP-related story to tell.

In the year 2007, a poetry symposium on Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982) was to be held at Kanda University of International Studies (KUIS) in Chiba, Japan where the Kenneth Rexroth collection was housed. Although Rexroth “did not consider himself to be a Beat poet, and disliked the association, he was dubbed the ‘Father of the Beats’ by Time [magazine].”

Several months before the poetry symposium was scheduled to take place, I had been asked by the Director of the KUIS Career Education Center, where I was working, to support the KUIS staff member in charge of writing about Rexroth’s poetry for the KUIS Library newsletter. Such support involved providing assistance in explicating various poems of Rexroth. My background research in this regard included reading Linda Hamalian’s A Life of Kenneth Rexroth (1991). On a personal note, I found all of this to be quite interesting because, as an undergraduate student at the University of California, Davis, I had really enjoyed the poetry of Gary Snyder introduced to me in a seminar led by David Robertson.

My ESP work related to the Rexroth articles in the newsletter led to an invitation to be part of the poetry symposium described above where I read aloud one of Rexroth’s poems titled Yugao. I was pleased when Morgan Gibson complimented me on my reading.

At the request of the KUIS administration, some KUIS undergraduate students were given the opportunity to perform poetry readings in the symposium. We had also planned to provide coaching sessions for these students in advance. In addition, we had discussed holding a poetry contest.

It is interesting to me when one part of your life (e.g., poetry) connects with another part of your life (e.g., ESP) that rarely, if ever, connect. At Sony, I do recall sharing one poem (by e.e. cummings) with my students during spring that starts off as follows:

when faces called flowers float out of the ground

and breathing is wishing and wishing is having-

but keeping is downward and doubting and never

-it’s april(yes,april;my darling)it’s spring!

yes the pretty birds frolic as spry as can fly

yes the little fish gambol as glad as can be

(yes the mountains are dancing together)

Enjoy National Poetry month!

All the best,

Kevin

About Kevin Knight

Kevin Knight
Kevin Knight (PhD in Linguistics, MBA, MPIA) is an associate professor in the Department of International Communication (International Business Career major) and has also been working in the Career Education Center of Kanda University of International Studies in Chiba, Japan. In the TESOL ESP Interest Section (ESPIS), he has served as chair and English in occupational settings (EOS) representative, and he is currently the ESPIS community manager. He was also a member of the Governance Review Task Force (GRTF) appointed by the board of directors. In addition, he has been a TESOL blogger in the area of English for Specific Purposes (ESP). He has more than 30 years of professional experience working for private, public, and academic sector institutions including Sony and the Japan Patent Office. His doctoral research on leadership communication (i.e., discourse) as a basis for leadership development was under the supervision of Emeritus Professor Christopher Candlin and Dr. Alan Jones.
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