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Two Local Poets Featured in Newsday: Wheat and Wallace

Maxwell Cordyon Wheat, Jr. is a poet from Freeport, Long Island. He was nominated as Nassau County’s first poet laureate, but he was rejected by a vote in the Nassau Couty Legislature in which all the Republicans and all but one of the Democrats on the committee voted against the nomination.

Max Wheat talks to Alan Semerjian Photo by Ian WilderKudos to Newsday, who in today’s Sunday paper, has a piece by former Suffolk County Poet Laureate George Wallace, and by unofficial Nassau County Poet Laureate Max Wheat.

The local poetry community will be honoring Max Wheat on June 24th at the Cedarmere.

Excerpts and links to the Newsday pieces below:

Stirring emotions

Poets play with language to elicit feelings. If we find a political message, it may – or may not be – what the writer intended.


June 10, 2007

It is the language. That is what poetry is – language enjoyment. I quote T.S. Eliot: “Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.”…

When Nassau legislators used my poem “The Colonel Will Know When the Troops Can Go Home” to charge me with “condemning” our servicemen and women, they were not using this author’s meaning. My purpose was to show what happens in war by creating an experience in language…But a specific anti-war, or anti-soldier statement is not the meaning I was intending. A poem can take on a dynamic of its own – the words stirring in readers feelings the poet might not have thought about.

Poets don’t talk about writing to express meaning…

If war poetry could be introduced into the deliberations of presidents, generals, ambassadors and military advisers, imagine how this might affect their sensitivities about wounding and killing for issues that could be resolved in talks around a horseshoe table…
(end Maxwell Wheat excerpt)

Politicking dulls poetics

George Wallace, former Suffolk poet laureate, wrote “Swimming Through Water” and other books.

June 10, 2007

The great Russian poet Anna Akhmatova once said her country silences poets by sending them to a gulag, while America silences poets by ignoring them…

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