, Gloucester, MA

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May 22, 2013

My View: Poet laureate Rufus Collinson

“I believe that … poetry, like bread, is for everyone.”

— Roque Dalton

My mother’s name was May.

I feel her presence especially in the gently scented and promising days of this month.

My mother loved poetry. It was her sustaining force. Her favorite collection was a dog-earred old volume called 101 Famous Poems.

Her goal was to memorize every poem in the book. It became my goal, too. I think of the two us folding the clothes, a summer breeze billowing the window curtains, reciting poems into the soft air.

Every day after school, Mama baked something sweet and fragrant, made tea and asked me to listen to the new lines she had learned, asked me to say them with her …

This was my introduction to poetry. It gave my mother a place to Be. And it gave me a way to be with her.

When she was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s and I walked into her room, looked into her eyes and recited, “By the shores of Gitche Gumee,” she would join me for a moment.

Poetry for me is all about connection. When I write from my heart, I find that my experience resonates with the experiences of others. When the poetry is shared, it gives us a place to be together.

Life seems to me like a series of poems. Writing poetry is a reminder to stay in the moment — the music and color and feel of the moment.

I hope that we meet in a poem someday.

Ruthanne “Rufus” Collinson is the city of Gloucester’s poet laureate.

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