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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday: Robert Fitterman's "National Laureate" and some funky stop signs...


Greetings from the South Carolina low country, where we’re still unpacking and settling in, and still going back and forth a bit from the north Georgia mountains to our new home on the Carolina coast. (I’m thinking one more trip back to finish grabbing what I left behind and to clean, and I should feel officially moved!)

I am quite in love with our new home town of Beaufort. I mean, just look at those stop signs. And if you think the traffic signs are welcoming, you should meet the people! Then there’s the haunting, romantic Spanish moss dripping from live oaks, the whispering history in town and among the islands, the calls of sea birds, the tropical quality of light, the waving grasses of vast, teeming marshes…. OK, I’ll stop. I’m gushing.

Today I have a poem I happily stumbled across – it’s a found poem, and you know I love reading and writing those! I confess the poet Robert Fitterman was new to me. This poem offers carefully chosen snippets from the state poet laureates. (Not every state has a poet laureate.)

Here are the first few stanzas:

National Laureate

by Robert Fitterman

Alabama

Eagle and egret, woodcock and teal, all birds
gathering to affirm the last gasp of sunset.

Alaska

Maybe I should stay in bed
all day long and read a book
or listen to the news on the radio
but truthfully, I am not meant for that.

Arkansas

Then, as we talked, my personage subdued,
And I became, as Petit jean, a ghost,

California

I can stand here all day and tell you how much
I honor, admire, how brave you are.



Now, to be completely self-indulgent, here are the stanzas from the state we just left and the state we’ve come to call home again. (My husband and I met at Furman University, in the South Carolina upstate, and married right after graduation 30 years ago in June.) I kind of like the progression from dark to light in these two stanzas, at this season of our lives! Here we have the words of Georgia’s poet laureate, David Bottoms, and of South Carolina’s, Marjory Heath Wentworth.

Georgia

Loaded on beer and whiskey, we ride to the dump in carloads to turn our headlights across the wasted field, …

South Carolina

Seeds of hope are waiting in the sacred soil beneath our feet and in the light and in the shadows, spinning below the hemlocks. …


Please click here to read the entire poem.

And for lots of great poetry from many states & countries, please visit the marvelous Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for this week’s Roundup.

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