Maryland

In 1959, Maryland established a state poet laureate position, which is currently held by Grace Cavalieri, appointed in 2018, who will serve a four-year term. Cavalieri is the author of several poetry collections, including Other Voices, Other Lives (Alan Squire Publishing, 2017).

In 2019, Francis Smith became the poet laureate of Emmitsburg, Maryland. Smith will serve a two-year term.

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Maryland poet laureaute
Grace Cavalieri

Grace Cavalieri received a BS in Education from New Jersey College and an MA in creative writing from Goddard University. The author of over forty books of poetry and plays, including most recently What The Psychic Said (Goss publications, 2020) and Other Voices, Other Lives (Alan Squire Publishing, 2017).

Grace holds The Associated Writing Program’s George Garrett Award, as well as the Pen-Fiction, the Allen Ginsberg, Bordighera Poetry, and Paterson Poetry awards, the “Annie” Award, The inaugural Folger Shakespeare Library Columbia Award, The National Award from The Commission On Working Women. and The CPB Silver Medal.

She founded and produces “the Poet and the Poem” for public radio, now from the Library of Congress. In 2019, she was named an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow. Cavalieri currently serves as the tenth poet laureate of Maryland.

Grace Cavalieri

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October 27, 1989

          And what did you want?
          To call myself beloved, to feel myself
                 beloved on the earth.
                       --Ray Carver
						
He was in a hotel in Baltimore
in a suburb near Johns Hopkins. He would

give a talk there, and they would pay him for it. 
It was night, and he was alone; sirens were racing

up and down the streets. The room was very large. 
Most of what he had wished as a boy was to write poems,

to have some power with the word, to be paid 
for talking. Don't smile, please. He wanted

to be put in a beautiful room like this. 
Bonnie would pick him up in an hour. He saw

out the picture window a few men in trenchcoats 
walking toward the parking lot, and beyond that

headlights and taillights on a freeway a mile 
or so away. He'd been reading Carver's last book

of poems, reading "Gravy" and the other valedictories. 
He remembered Carver a few years before his death,

kidding about his prosperity, kneeling before his Mercedes 
and waving a fistful of dollars, because he was so amazed,

he supposed, to have them, that good man, whose last poems, 
written in the knowledge of imminent death, said

love the world, don't grieve overmuch, listen to people. 
The beautiful room was a good place to read; he'd finished

the book (for the second time) at the pine desk, where 
the indirect white light hurt his eyes. He didn't think 

he'd ever be as famous as Carver, but who could tell? 
He was sorry the man was dead; there was nothing

he could do about that, but he was sorry for it. 
He got up to look out the picture window. He could

see the red spintops of some cops' cars. Other than that 
nothing special: in the entrance courtyard a lone cabbie

smoked a cigarette; spotlights shone up through the yellow 
foliage of a clump of maples. A few slow crickets.

He had everything he really wanted, he had learned 
that friends, like love, couldn't save him.

Catoctin Mountain Park

 

He who thus considers things in their first growth and origin, whether a state or anything else, will obtain the clearest view of them.
—Aristotle, Politics (translated by Benjamin Jowett)

 

Look out across
the ridges of trees
flushed red
as if holding
their breath
to blue distance,
a wager made
with the sky.

Look out over
the Appalachians’
eastern rampart,
then scrap the word for parts—
before, prepare, fortify
to take possession of again.

On the road in, two wild
turkeys bustle off into
the brush.

Off the trail in wet leaves,
yellow eyes of a box turtle.

What I take
to be the stripes
of common shiner
in a riffle.

Alone, one might intone
whose woods, whose woods,
one might whisper
democratic vistas.

One might say
summit and Summit,
as elsewhere, but near,
are Aristotle’s other
animals—political—
at fenced and guarded
leisure, though the wind

passes as it pleases,
and when it shakes
the trees, it is not
an agreement at all.

Nothing and Something

It is nothing to me, the beauty said,
With a careless toss of her pretty head;
The man is weak if he can't refrain
From the cup you say is fraught with pain.
It was something to her in after years,
When her eyes were drenched with burning tears,
And she watched in lonely grief and dread,
And startled to hear a staggering tread.
 
It is nothing to me, the mother said;
I have no fear that my boy will tread
In the downward path of sin and shame,
And crush my heart and darken his name.
It was something to her when that only son
From the path of right was early won,
And madly cast in the flowing bowl
A ruined body and sin-wrecked soul.
 
It is nothing to me, the young man cried:
In his eye was a flash of scorn and pride;
I heed not the dreadful things ye tell:
I can rule myself I know full well.
 
It was something to him when in prison he lay
The victim of drink, life ebbing away;
And thought of his wretched child and wife,
And the mournful wreck of his wasted life.
 
It is nothing to me, the merchant said,
As over his ledger he bent his head;
I'm busy to-day with tare and tret,
And I have no time to fume and fret.
It was something to him when over the wire
A message came from a funeral pyre—
A drunken conductor had wrecked a train,
And his wife and child were among the slain.
 
It is nothing to me, the voter said,
The party's loss is my greatest dread;
Then gave his vote for the liquor trade,
Though hearts were crushed and drunkards made.
It was something to him in after life,
When his daughter became a drunkard's wife
And her hungry children cried for bread,
And trembled to hear their father's tread.
 
Is it nothing for us to idly sleep
While the cohorts of death their vigils keep?
To gather the young and thoughtless in,
And grind in our midst a grist of sin?