Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Services of Poetry Are Always Needed

On a local-government site for Pennsylvania (in this case "local" seems to mean "state"), I found the following interesting item:

"Position History:
Position established 1993. The first and only state poet laureate, Sam Hazon, was appointed May 24, 1993 by Gov. Bob Casey. On May 1, 2003, Hazon was notified by an aide to Gov. Ed Rendell that his "services were no longer needed." Rendell's decision to remove Hazon from office effectively terminated the position of Pennsylvania poet laureate. For more information, see the October 10, 2004 article 'It's Official: Every Poet is a State Poet' in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette."

It turns out Mr Hazo was more than well-deserving of the post; see part of his bibliography below. To Governor Rendell, I would simply say, "Sir, the services of poets and poetry are always needed; look around you, sir!"

I haven't tracked down the Post Gazette article yet, but I wonder if it was Rendell's idea to make every poet the state poet--and therefore give none of them special responsibilities, funds for broadening interest in poetry, or a wee office in which to work. Consider all the well paid hacks that are on any state-governors staff, and consider what small percentage of one hack's salary would be needed to maintain the poet-laureate post, and, if you're a friend of poetry, you might manage a chortle--and then immediately start wondering about that word, "chortle."

So lift a glass or a pen to Samuel Hazo. May the road rise to meet Mr. Rendell, but may he also experience a Damascus-like vision on that road in which he realizes the services poetry may provide.

Mr. Hazo's bibliography below is courtesy of . . .


• Stills. Syracuse: Syracuse UP, 1998.
• The Wanton Summer Air. New York: North Point Press, 1982.
• Inscripts. Athens: Ohio UP, 1975.
• The Color of Reluctance. Story, WY: Dooryard Press, 1986.
• Solos. First produced at the Carnegie Lecture Hall, Pittsburgh, 1994.
• Until I’m Not Here Anymore. First produced at the Fulton Theatre, Pittsburgh, 1992.

• Just Once. Pittsburgh: Autumn House Press, 2002.
• Listen with the Eye. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 1964.
• Blood Rights. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 1968.
• The Past Won’t Stay Behind You. Fayetteville: U of Arkansas P, 1993.
• As They Sail. Fayetteville: U of Arkansas P, 1999.
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