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Fogel in Line to Become New Hampshire Poet Laureate

Poet Alice B. Fogel, at her home in Ackworth, N.H. on Sept. 5 2013.
{Valley News - Jennifer Hauck}

Poet Alice B. Fogel, at her home in Ackworth, N.H. on Sept. 5 2013. {Valley News - Jennifer Hauck} Purchase photo reprints »

Alice B. Fogel, the author of four poetry collections, is poised to become the next Poet Laureate in New Hampshire, succeeding Walter Butts, who died this spring after serving four years of a five-year term. Gov. Maggie Hassan has officially put forward Fogel’s name as the state’s Poet Laureate, and it will be voted on by members of the state’s Executive Council on Nov. 20.

The term, which begins in January 2014, comes with an honorary stipend of $500; it is the first time in the history of the position in New Hampshire that a stipend has been offered. Funds for the stipend were raised in honor of Butts.

Reached by phone at her home in Acworth, Fogel said that a number of fine candidates had also been nominated. “I wouldn’t have been surprised to not get it,” she said, “but I was pleased to get it because I felt ready and able.”

Her collection of poems Be That Empty , published by Harbor Mountain Press, was on the national poetry best-seller list in 2008, and she was a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant. Another volume of poems, Interval: Poems Based on Bach’s Goldberg Variations, is forthcoming from Schaffner Press.

Her most recent book, Strange Terrain: A Poetry Handbook for the Reluctant Reader , published in 2009 by Hobblebush Books, is a primer of sorts intended for readers who may be unfamiliar with, or intimidated by, contemporary poetry. By juxtaposing her own poems with her own very readable analysis of their language, syntax and visual appearance on the page, Fogel takes what might seem to be challenging territory and opens it up to new readers.

She would like to get copies of Strange Terrain into state schools, libraries and reading groups, which she hopes will inspire people to read more poetry. And she hopes that she can also raise the profile of local and state poets, whether in person or print, to audiences when she does readings. “New Hampshire has a great history of nurturing the arts. I’m thrilled to have benefited from some of that support, and to be able to do my part in sharing it with others,” she wrote in an email.

Previous New Hampshire Poet Laureates have included Richard G. Eberhart, Patricia Fargnoli, Cynthia Huntington, Marie Harris, Donald Hall, Jane Kenyon and Maxine Kumin. Sydney Lea of Newbury is Poet Laureate of Vermont.

Nicola Smith can be reached at nsmith@vnews.com.