Poetry has many purposes: to celebrate, communicate and commemorate, to draw out feelings and impressions that help us understand the soul, to explore the far frontiers of language. A poem can touch the hearts and stimulate the minds of millions, or it can be a personal message that the poet needed to send and deliver to very few, even just to him or herself. Poems may also tell a story better than any other form of expression. Despite the image of the poet as a solitary figure with a pen, paper and an inspiration, there are also moments when the creation and experession of poetry becomes a public event. For many centuries, nations andcommunities have honored a writer with the title of poet laureate . In some cases this person was expected to produce poetry on request for significant events -- the king's birthday, a great victory or the opening of the county fair -- but in recent years the role of a poet laureate has been more like a representative at large in the study and spread of poetry.
April is National Poetry Month -- so declared by the Academy of American Poets -- and in observance of that occasion OFF THE PAGE welcomes two poets from our region who presently hold the title of Poet Laureate. The program also offers many poems sent in from listeners.
Andrei Guruianu of Vestal is the first Poet Laureate of Broome County, a title bestowed by the Broome County Arts Council and ratified by the county legislature. A native of Romania, Guruianu is editor of The Broome Review , he teaches at Ithaca College and is working on a Ph.D. in English at Binghamton University. He is also a reporter and columnist for the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin.
In response to the tragic events of April 3rd at the American Civic Association in Binghamton, Andrei Guruianu, the Broome County Arts Council and the Press & Sun-Bulletin are soliciting poems and other writings for a book to be called "Binghamton Remembers".
Paul Hamill of Ithaca just completed a two-year term as Poet Laureate of Tompkins County. His work has appeared in The Georgia Review, the Habersham Review and other journals. His epic poem "Meeting the Giant", about the notorious Cardiff Giant hoax, was published in the Cortland Review (read the poem and/or hear Hamill recite it here ). When not in pursuit of poetry, Paul Hamill is Director of Academic Funding and Sponsored Programs at Ithaca College.
Hamill and Guruianu join Bill Jaker to read and discuss their poetry.