Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Discovery/Ken Burns

I've just returned from the Springfield Public Forum, the only free public forum in the country. Every fall, the Forum brings speakers to the city for a series of lectures that "inform, inspire and stimulate."

Tonight's speaker was filmmaker Ken Burns, whose most recent documentary, "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," aired on PBS this fall. I wasn't quite sure what to expect of him as a speaker--we are so accustomed to seeing his message, that I thought he might be at a disadvantage on a bare stage with only a podium and a mike. I was mistaken. What I discovered tonight was that Ken Burns is not only an image maker. He is a poet.

His words this evening were rich and textured; his message was one of passion and the discovery of the life within through the "common wealth" of the land without. One of the opening lines of his documentary on the national parks is a quotation from John Muir:

"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul."

I was reminded of one of my own places of healing and cheer, a remote corner of Chappaquiddick Island where I spend part of the summer and where I have set my novel-in-progress, First Light.

It was a special evening, reinforced by a beauty not of incredible vistas and natural wonders, but of words.

No comments: