New New Hampshire state poet laureate wants to be ambassador for the art form
By SHAWNE K. WICKHAM
New Hampshire Sunday News | November 24. 2013 8:18PM
Too many people were intimidated by poetry in school, she said. “They feel that there’s hidden meaning, that it’s obscuring something, it’s making them feel stupid, so they avoid it, thinking it’s not for them.”
One of her first ideas is to bring her book, “Strange Terrain: A Poetry Handbook for the Reluctant Reader,” into libraries, schools and reading groups around the state. “Because that book is about how to feel more comfortable with poetry without necessarily getting it.”
Soon after, she enrolled in a graduate program in poetry at the University of New Hampshire and began to focus on her writing.
“I think that poetry slows us down, and helps us reflect on our lives. Most of our lives are activity: what are we doing and how can we do more. And we’re so stressed because we’re doing so much already.
Technology has contributed to a loss of appreciation for the crafting of words, she said. “Texting and emailing and all that, it’s a great quick communication and it connects people, but it doesn’t have that human element,” she said.
That’s part of her mission as poet laureate, she said. “I guess I would hope that by bringing poetry to people, we could have that conversation, that poetry is a craft. It’s not just ‘let me tell you what happened today.’”
Nature, music, a turn of phrase, even some tidbit of science can trigger her to explore something in poetry.
“I think if everybody wanted to write poems, I’d be perfectly happy, but there has to be some criteria for what a poem is made up of, and it’s not just self-expression. It’s more than what you would write in your diary or say to your best friend over tea. It’s an art.”
For the first time, the poet laureate post comes with an honorarium of $500 a year to help fulfill her mission. Funding comes from the Walter Butts’ New Hampshire Poet Laureate Fund, created in memory of the late poet laureate who died earlier this year, and coordinated through the Poetry Society of New Hampshire.
“But you don’t become a poet if you want to get rich,” she said.
To read some of her poetry, visit: alicebfogel.com.