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July 30, 2013

My View: Poetry alive and well in Gloucester

Poetry is a hot topic in Gloucester.

It is not up there with the new Newell, I-4, C-2, or the Red Sox these days. But it is talked about – not to mention read, practiced and published widely.

Some reasons are obvious. We have a dedicated poet laureate in Rufus Collinson, writing and sharing. “The Elicitor,” the Gloucester High School literary publication under the guidance of James Cook, continues a rich, decades-long tradition.

Henry Ferrini and others help The Gloucester Writers’ Center thrive. And I’ll boldly plug “The Writer’s Block,” my own poetry-promoting cable program, beginning its 24th year this fall.

You are holding in your hand another reason for poetry optimism in Gloucester. The Gloucester Daily Times publishes poetry regularly in “Poets Corner.”

This is remarkable for two reasons. First, newspapers don’t usually publish poetry. According to one website ( there are fewer than a dozen papers in the country that do so. That total is less than 1 percent of the country’s dailies and weeklies. We are very lucky.

There is a second, more important reason for this being remarkable. The space devoted to poetry is filled! And could be filled many times over. Scores of Gloucester citizens, not just self-proclaimed poets, write and publish their work. And, as I mentioned, it is a hot topic of conversation.

Recently, I was talking with a friend, Billy Dixon, about Steinbeck’s novel, “Of Mice and Men.” The title is powerful and well chosen. Our conversation led quickly to title’s source, a poem titled “To a Mouse.”

That the wisdom of Robert Burns can reach across continents and centuries speaks well for poetry, speaks well for Gloucester. The poem reads, in part:

But Mousie, thou art not alone,

In proving foresight may be vain:

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