Waking early and walking in silence around Walden Pond in Concord, Mass., on a beautiful summer morning, Cayuga Community College Professor and Poet Howard Nelson experienced firsthand the contrast of a noisy passing train within the serene wooded trail; much like Henry David Thoreau did more than 150 years ago.
The morning walk was part of the 2011 Thoreau Society Annual Gathering “Henry David Thoreau’s Environmental Ethos Then and Now” in Concord, Mass. Nelson, an invited speaker at the four-day conference, presented “Thoreau Among Poets,” which traced Thoreau’s influence on a variety of poets as well as the relationship Thoreau had with other poets such as William Butler Yeats, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Robert Bly, and Hayden Carruth.
“There are a lot of poems out there that have direct references to him or are inspired by his work,” Nelson said. “Some poems are critical of him or the poets are annoyed by him. Many explore the longing that people feel to get away from it all.”
Nelson will discuss his presentation and what he learned from other participants of the Thoreau Society Annual Gathering at 11 a.m. on Friday, October 28 in L210, Auburn Campus, 197 Franklin St. Nelson will also share one of his own poems about Thoreau.
Nelson has also recruited living history actor Richard Smith who portrayed Thoreau at the Annual Gathering to visit campus on November 7 and present Thoreau’s writings as part of the College’s Visiting Writer Program. Smith will give two presentations: 11 a.m. on November 7 in the Student Lounge, Auburn Campus, and at 7:30 p.m. on November 7 at the Auburn Public Theater, 8 Exchange Street at Genesee, Auburn.
“I came back from the gathering feeling excited by Thoreau,” Nelson said. “It was a very rich experience intellectually and otherwise. Thoreau was not worshipped. We discussed his eccentricities and thorny qualities, too. It is great to be able to bring these experiences back to campus and share what I’ve learned.”