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Poetry in Motions

"Poet Lawyerate" is the unofficial title a reporter this weekend gave Urbana, Ill., lawyer Carl Reisman. Writing in The News-Gazette, reporter Mary Schenk explains: "He's a poet who happens to put food on the table by practicing law. And he's a lawyer who likes to write poetry." Sequentially, poetry came well before the law degree for this workers' compensation attorney. Today, however, neither takes a higher seat. "I don't think you can say either comes first. You can't separate out identities that way. People are complicated," Reisman says.

Lest there be any question as to the interplay between poetry and law, Reisman is helping to organize a conference to be held Thursday and Friday, Opening Arguments: Poetry and the Law. Sponsors are the University of Illinois College of Law, the University of Illinois MFA Creative Writing Program and Richard Powers, author of National Book Award winning novel, The Echo Maker. Among the topics on the agenda: "In Search of the Lawyer Poets," "Does the Practice of Law Kill Passion?" and "Law and Poetry as Spiritual Paths." A featured speaker will be West Virginia College of Law professor James R. Elkins, who collects information on lawyer/poets at his Web site, Strangers to Us All: Lawyers and Poetry.

As for Reisman, poetry helps keep him grounded, he says. "It gives me a way to try to take an experience and condense it and to process things that are very difficult, contradictory and put it into some sort of expression that other people might find meaningful."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on February 12, 2007 at 06:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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