Gloucester Poet Laureate
dedicated to the poets and poetry
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He who draws noble delights from sentiments of poetry is a true poet, though he has never written a line in all his life. ~George Sand, 1851
Poets are the unacknowledged legislators
of the world. ~Percy Byshe Shelley
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Ruthanne (Rufus) Collinson is the Poet Laureate of the City of Gloucester, Massachusetts. The city council, and its Committee for the Arts representative, Council member Bruce Tobey, nominated Collinson in July to a four year term.
In naming Collinson, Tobey cited the quality of her submitted works, one of which described the movement of water over pebbles and stones at a beach in Gloucester. "She used words with such craftsmanship and precision to create sensations for me that were really wonderful," Tobey said. "I saw it and felt it."
Collinson grew up in a Concord Street neighborhood where she was the only girl, and once worked as a reporter for the Gloucester Daily Times, started writing plays as an 8-year-old and penned her first poem at the age of 9. She now lives downtown near the Fort.
Collinson replaces John J. Ronan as Poet Laureate. "Rufus will put her mark on the position," Ronan said in an interview. "I know she will do a wonderful job and bring honor to the city and the post of Poet Laureate." Collinson has said she plans to build on the foundation established by Ronan.
In an editorial published in July, 2008, in the Gloucester Daily Times and in the Cape Ann Beacon, Mr. Ronan vowed to make "poetry a public commodity" in Gloucester and laid out four specific goals:
- to found a Poet Laureate Scholarship for a graduating Gloucester High School senior who has shown ability and interest in poetry.
- to reach into the schools at all levels so that poets can be available to teachers to talk about and to read poetry with students.
- to embrace the other end of the age spectrum, the elderly, and promote poetry reading and writing among our oldest, wisest, fellow citizens.
- to publish, hardcover and electronically, a book of poetry by and about Gloucester to showcase the many fine writers active in the city, mirroring Gloucester's diversity and talent, and created in the spirit of Gwendolyn Brooks, who wrote: "Be yourself. Don't imitate other poets. You are as important as they are."
This website was established to further those goals and was the source site of the poetry in Salt and Light: An Anthology of Gloucester Poetry, published in the spring of 2010.
Many fine poets live and write in the city of Gloucester and their poems have been widely published, helping to maintain Cape Ann's reputation as an important artistic center. A central purpose of Gloucester Poet Laureate is to promote and distribute worldwide the names and poems of the city's artists and to help build their reputations and the reputation of Gloucester in the age of cyber space. The pages here are dedicated to professional poets, those published artists long committed to the craft, and also to non-professional poets, citizens who have written for special occasions and express part of the core identity of Gloucester in their work. (This website is under continued construction; watch for future additions.)
Anne Babson Carter, winner of the prestigious Four Way Book Prize for Strike Root, lives and writes in Gloucester.
Pat Lowery Collins, an accomplished poet, painter and novelist, has won national and regional honors for her work. She lives and works in Gloucester.
Ruthanne (Rufus) Collinson has worn many occupational hats, but the most consistent through the decades has been that of poet. She lives in central Gloucester and often uses the city as a theme in her work.
Joseph Featherstone and his family have lived in Gloucester -- part-time or full-time -- for almost fifty years. His love for the city, especially East Gloucester, is reflected in his poetry collection titled Brace's Cove.
The Fishermen's Wives Memorial Poetry Contest, held in the spring of 2010, was a competition for Gloucester residents to honor the Fishermen's Wives Memorial, including the statue by Morgan Faulds Pike. The contest was a success with dozens of poets entering finely crafted work. The winner was Diane Giardi for her poem, "The Fishermen's Wives." Her poem appears on the Fishermen's Wives page, along with the poems of the runners-up: Wayne Soini, Nancy LeGendre, and Douglas Goldman.
The Quarterdeck Poetry Contest, held in the summer of 2009, was a competition for Gloucester residents to honor the original choice, by statewide vote, of The Man at the Wheel for a Massachusetts quarter. Regardless of the U.S. Mint's pending final decision on whether to recognize that vote, the contest was a resounding success. The winner was Pamela Mansfield, for her poem, "Verdigris - The Man at the Wheel." Her poem appears on the Quarterdeck page, along with the poems of the runners-up: Amber Gailitis, Neal Kleindienst, and Lydia Priest.
John J. Ronan has published widely and won national honors for his poetry, including being named a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow. His latest book, Marrowbone Lane, appeared in January of 2009.
Stephen Scotti is a renown composer and musician and singer who also writes poets. A resident of Gloucester for many years, he is especially for his work setting American and Irish poems to music.
Seascape Poems are important to a community that depends on the ocean for industry, art and leisure. The poets included here range from Rose DiMaria, whose father and husband were fishermen, to T. S. Eliot, whose Dry Salvages is about that shelf of rock off Cape Ann.
Nancy Seidman was a frequent visitor to Cape Ann where her daughter, Kate Seidman, and son-in-law, Mitch Cohen live. Mitch, a Gloucester native, recently introduced Nancy's poetry to the community.
Over a thousand Student Poets have participated in the Gloucester Lyceum's annual Poetry Without Paper competition and the work is among the best being written in Gloucester. The winners included here are: Cathy Cusumano, Kate Bresnahan, Andrew Bergeron, Heather Boudrow, Emma Chandler, Alexandra McKay, Samantha Turner, Kaitlin Nicolosi, Billy O'Donnell, Britany Diamondt, Erin McManus, Phoebe Weissblum, Kazira Slocum, Alexandra Lees, Lydia Anderson, Aidan Breen, Jordan Gentile, Meghaen Favazza, Lucina Fox, Jemma Johnson-Shoucair, Alessandra Moceri, and Katina Tibbetts.
Additional student poetry can be found at the Gloucester High School's literary website, The Elicitor. The site is run and supervised by James Cook, who teaches creative writing at GHS and is himself a well-published poet. Details of the Gloucester Poet Laureate Scholarship will be posted on The Elicitor and can be found at the end of the Student Poets page on this website.
Peter Todd, a Gloucester native, is a self-taught poet. He has read often at functions in Gloucester and writes of how his own background is entwined with the city's.
Frances Wosmek is a writer of children's books and a poet. She has won many national honors for her work and is vibrant and creative in her 90's. Frances lives in the Magnolia neighborhood of Gloucester.
The honorary position of Poet Laureate was created in Gloucester in 1998 after Councilors John Foote and Dean Harrison nominated Vincent Ferrini for the post, capping his half-century of literary achievement in the city. Mr. Ferrini died Dec. 24, 2008 at Den-Mar Nursing Home in Rockport, MA, of heart failure. He was 94.
Vincent Ferrini was preceded by a long tradition of poetry in his adopted city. His friend and colleague, Charles Olson, began his American-Gloucester epic, The Maximus Poems, in 1950 and the the work, though unfinished as his death in 1970, has gained worldwide recognition. Other twentieth century poets who lived in or wrote of Gloucester included Herb Kenny, Percy MacKaye, Kitty Parsons, and Lora Clark.
Earlier, at the turn of the twentieth century and in the nineteenth, the list of writers included Lucy Larcom, Clarence Falt, Elizabeth Phelps, and Hiram Rich. Probably the most famous poet to write about Gloucester remains Henry Wadsworth Longfellow for his ballad, The Wreck of the Hesperus.
This is a very short list of Gloucester poets, or poets writing about Gloucester. A full list of poets or other writers inspired by Gloucester might stretch to T.S. Eliot, Rudyard Kipling, and even H.P. Lovecraft, but that is beyond the scope of this website. The links below will help in researching Gloucester poetry and poets.
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