Letter: Poet Laureate Isn’t Doing His Job
To the Editor:
Vermont poet laureate Sydney Lea’s July 5 Valley News column (“Collins Brings Authority to ‘The Writer’s Almanac’ ”) opens with a poem called What Followed Your Birth. Lea dismisses the poem as “pretty bad” and never bothers to name the poet.
The poet who wrote What Followed Your Birth is Hal Sirowitz, former poet laureate of Queens, N.Y., who has had at least four books of poetry published. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Endowment for the Arts. His poems have appeared in a number of major poetry journals, anthologies and on New York subway trains. His work has been translated into more than a dozen languages.
The job of a poet laureate is to advocate for poetry. Lea advocates only for poetry that he happens to like, which would be sufferable if he didn’t find it necessary to trash poems that he dislikes.
By the way, Sirowitz writes funny poems about real people, and underlying his humor are simple truths about the everyday heartbreak that real people endure. If this isn’t the stuff of poetry, then I don’t know what is.
Carolyn M. Bardos