Transcript of Charles Osgood File: RESURRECTING DEAD POETS
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Walter Skold, the former Maine schoolteacher who founded the Dead Poets Society of America, traveled 15,000 miles last year to document the graves of poets. He's now on another 22-state tour of poets' graves, and he's enlisted 13 state Poet Laureates to join him in poetry readings there.
Walter Skold --
"What we do at each place is we have been inviting anyone who wants to come read -- professional poet or not -- to read from the poetry of one of the past poets in their own state."
There's something to be said for local dead poets, says Skold.
"Locally is where the love is for the forgotten poets. In other words, we all know the Poes and Longfellows and Sextons and whatever. But there are a lot of poets that were popular in only a city or a state. When people realize that someone wants to honor those poets and remember them, they get very excited, and they come out to these events."
Walter Skold's Dead Poets Tour takes him from place to place in a boxy van he calls Dedgar -- as in Edgar -- the Poe Mobile. Edgar Allan Poe died on October 7th, 1849, in Baltimore, and he's buried there.
"Part of the purpose is to promote the October 7th Dead Poets Remembrance Day, where we are hoping and planning for people in all kinds of communities to join together and read the poetry of the dead poets from their state in order to honor them and to remember them, and to rediscover them, in many cases."
He's not looking for a national holiday, Presidential proclamation or anything of the sort.
"It is very much from the bottom up, and I think that's an indication of the power of poetry. And that's where poetry comes from. It doesn't come from Presidential proclamations, it comes from the people. It's been exciting to see that poetry is very alive, as we travel around."
Last year, Skold learned that it's best to let the cemeteries know he's coming. No problem is most cases.
"Well, we're finding, too, that most cemeteries as pleased that people are taking notice in their history. They really have an interest in having the public come and do poetry readings in their cemeteries..."
The Osgood File. Charles Osgood on the CBS Radio Network.