April 12, 2016

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

50 State Tour: Wisconsin, Part II

We're visiting with Wisconsin Poet Laureate, Marilyn L. Taylor.

Marilyn, how has the region you live in affected your poetry?

Well, to put it very frankly, I'm not sure that it has. I simply can't claim that there is a distinctive Wisconsin "voice" or a typically Wisconsin supply of subject matter for poetry -- although I suppose there are a certain number of poets in this state who have indeed written about cheese and cows and the Green Bay Packers.

But for those of us who take our poetry very seriously and who publish both here and elsewhere, I would say that "regionalism" is a secondary element in our work.

Speaking for myself, I'd much rather write a poem about, say, the unpredictability of human nature than one about bucolic rural Wisconsin scenery. It's more a matter of the individual poet's motivations, I think -- and less a matter of where that poet lives.

Does Wisconsin have a poet-in-the-schools program?

Although many communities and organizations in Wisconsin support programs that bring poets to their schools, I am not aware of a state-wide Poet-in-the-Schools Program.

 Thanks for joining us on the 50 State Tour, Marilyn. You're a great ambassador for poetry!

Here is Marilyn L. Taylor's sonnet, "Reading the Obituaries." If you work in schools, you've thought about the issue Marilyn raises in the poem -- the death of once-popular names.

Reading the Obituaries

by  Marilyn L. Taylor

Now the Barbaras have begun to die,
trailing their older sisters to the grave,
the Helens, Margies, Nans -- who said goodbye
just days ago, it seems, taking their leave
a step or two behind the hooded girls
who bloomed and withered with the century --
the Dorotheas, Eleanors and Pearls
now swaying on the edge of memory.
Soon, soon, the scythe will sweep for Jeanne
and Angela, Patricia and Diane --
pause and return for Karen and Christine
while Susan spends a sleepless night again.
     Ah, Debra, how can you be growing old?
     Jennifer, Michelle, your hands are cold.

 Posted with permission of the author.

What a chilling final line. My gratitude to Marilyn L. Taylor for sharing such powerful sonnet with us.

California, here we come! You're up next on the 50 State Tour of poets laureate.

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