(April 29th, 2010) Walter Skold is a former journalist and middle-school computer teacher from Freeport, Maine. He is also the founder of the Dead Poets Society. This is not the 1989 Peter Weir film starring Robin Williams—though that cult classic is a reference point for the DPSA—but the organization whose mission is “digging up the graves of Dead Poets.” (“Duh,” their Facebook page clarifies, “this is meant in a journalistic/metaphoric sense.”)
What the society’s mission means is that its members are “a community of like-minded people who . . . enjoy the history, culture, & poetry associated with the lives and deaths of poets, their gravesites, and their poetry related to death,” and who are committed to “documenting and resurrecting the dead poets of America” by visiting and archiving as many poets’ graves across the country as they can.
On their website you can find everything from a pretty straightforward video of Haki Madhubuti paying tribute to Gwendolyn Brooks where she is buried in Chicago to the somewhat stranger image of a Barbie doll at the Wisconsin grave of Lorine Niedecker. The latter is an example of Skold’s tombstone art, which he describes as “a photographic combination of the techniques of Cristo and Jeanne-Claude, traditional African burial customs, literary criticism, collage, and performance art.”
Last year, Skold executed a three-month road trip to the graves of 150 poets in 23 states http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=103101585976737569975.000459ea6a0f2f0f844fd&z=5, paying homage to such favorites as Phillis Wheatley, Walt Whitman, and Allen Ginsberg, as well as to such lesser-knowns as Agnes Repplier, Lydia Huntley Sigourney, and the Reverend Michael Wigglesworth. The excursion totaled 15,000 miles, and Skold claims to have set a literary land speed record of 1.66 gpd, or graves per day. This year, in addition to a 22-city tour that kicked off on April 23—Shakespeare’s birthday—Skold is adding a crusade to create a National Dead Poets Remembrance Day, to be celebrated each October 7—Edgar Allan Poe’s death day.
Skold’s dedication and efficiency in locating poets’ graves is exceptional; I know from experience that this kind of scavenger hunt is not as easy as it might appear. Back in my final semester of graduate school, I and as many friends as would fit piled into a Subaru and drove from Boston to Hartford, Connecticut, one snowy weekend in February. We were going in search of Wallace Stevens. We were aware that the man had been dead for almost 50 years. But we wanted to see what he had seen on his weekday walk to and from the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company, to visit the house where he resided from 1932 to 1955, and most of all to find his grave.
Wallace Stevens, King of Ghosts.
We walked the walk, we stared at the house (which you cannot go inside, because people still live there), we breathed the air and imagined that maybe the same particles had circulated through the lungs of Stevens. Then, not really knowing how to get there, we headed to the graveyard. Or, rather, to a graveyard. First we went to the wrong place: Beth Israel Cemetery. Beautiful, to be sure, and also historic, but, as the understandably suspicious caretaker explained, Stevens was not Jewish. In the early winter sunset, directed by the caretaker, we made our way to the right one: Cedar Hill Cemetery. We did not have a map, and no one was there to guide us. The snow was piled so high that only the top few inches of the headstones protruded. We had neglected to have a mind of winter. Locating Stevens’s remains seemed hopeless. As we dug among the drifts, the darkness became complete. We had been cold a long time, and more snow started to fall among the skeletal trees. The six of us soon found ourselves surrounded by hungry deer with no fear of us, their skinny bodies lit by the headlights we’d left on, the better to read the stones. In the yellow glare their eyes looked backless and unreal, and we started to freak out a little, like maybe the deer were revenants, like the place was filling up with ghosts and we shouldn’t be there, plus it was freezing and we needed to pee and we were almost out of gas and we were meeting people for dinner. We abandoned our mission.
As the Dead Poets Society of America’s meticulously mapped 2010 tour indicates, Skold would not have been deterred by a little bit of snow and some creepy ghost deer. But who cares where a bunch of forgotten poets are buried? Why do I want to see these tombstones, and why does it make me—and the many people, including the nine state poets laureate to date who have participated in the DPSA’s activities—so pleased that the DPSA exists and is doing this? That Skold is, as he puts it, rescuing these poets from being “doubly dead,” for “not only did they die physically, but they suffered a second death when their works were consigned to literary oblivion.”
Skold’s fixation on dead poets seems fitting. Poets are sort of always already dead, consigned to literary oblivion even as they are living. All poets are dead poets, writing posthumously. Poetry is a dead art.
All poetry is written in opposition to, and therefore about, death. Poetry’s application of meter, rhyme, imagery, and memorable language is intended to make it endure in people’s heads. Its purpose is often memorial, or directly argumentative against the unjustness of everyone’s eventually having to die: “Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” says Dylan Thomas, yelling at death. Poetry and death go together like peanut butter and jelly. Like “two souls but a single thought,” if you want to get Keatsian about it. Like hope and dread, if you want to get Yeatsian about it. Stones and spoons, if you want to be Sextonian. The Poetry Foundation archive alone contains 928 poems about “Death.” Compare that to 65 about “Birth and Birthdays,” 38 about “Infancy,” and 449 about “Youth and Childhood.” Relatedly, there are 445 about “Sorrow and Grieving”—most of the sorrow and grief in response to death—and 310 about “Growing Old,” a process that leads inexorably to being deceased. Even though a poem can contain any subject, one of poets’ favorite things to put in the container has historically been, and continues to be, death. This preoccupation of arguing against death means that poetry is permanently associated with death. No one writes more poetry in high school than the goth kids.
All of this seems tied to the sense—which has existed probably as long as America has—that poetry as an art is either dying or dead. In 1928, Edmund Wilson asked, “Is Verse a Dying Technique?” (Answer: “Yes.”) In 1988, Joseph Epstein asked, “Who Killed Poetry?” In 1993, Vernon Shetley published After the Death of Poetry. A widespread consensus says that poetry is dead dead dead. A widespread consensus adds that this is sad news. Never mind that more people are reading, writing, and publishing poetry than probably ever before. True or not, I say dying is the best thing that ever happened to poetry. For if poetry is dead—has basically been dead this whole time—then poetry must be a ghost: unkillable and eternal and therefore more powerful than the living.
Perhaps this is why Skold and his DPSA have been so successful: they are tapping into a collective obsession with dead poets. Dead poets are always the most beloved. Live ones? Not so much. Love of a dead poet is an unimpeachable love. Dead, a poet is infinite and immortal, while the bounds around the poetry are clear and finite. Dead poets typically won’t humiliate you for liking them, won’t betray your affection by overproducing second-rate work, or espousing unsavory political beliefs, or publishing something cheap and clever in the New Yorker. You can feel confident in the security of a dead poet’s artistic excellence. And because poetry is regarded by virtually everyone as dead—as irrelevant from the moment of its inception—nobody can disparage your preoccupation with a dead poet any more than they can your preoccupation with stamp collecting. The stakes just seem so low.
Also? Because poetry is so linked to death, there is just something inappropriate about a live poet—something morbid and precious and silly. For example, poets are just the sort of people who might make fools of themselves getting chased by ghost deer while on an abortive search for the grave of Wallace Stevens. They have a whiff of uncomfy impracticality about them. Much more awkward to have a poet in your living room and be introduced, “So-and-so is a poet,” than to love a dead poet, free of all—bodily, earthly, economic—concerns. “So-and-so was a poet”—that’s better. It’s the difference between a filet mignon and a slaughterhouse: you like the product, but don’t necessarily want to see where it comes from. In fact, seeing where it comes from can actively impede your enjoyment. If one of the purposes of poetry is to escape from the anxiety of our own embodiment, then being reminded that it’s written by live people is kind of gross.
The impulse of the like-minded individuals who comprise the Dead Poets Society of America to collect dead poets’ graves and poems might be analogous to that of beachcombers: gathered seashells are lovely, but only after the mollusks that resided inside are gone.
Even if we hadn’t gotten lost, I’m not sure what exactly my friends and I were trying to find in Hartford. Epitaph as poetic form? Hunting poets’ graves as a form of ancestor worship? I don’t know if Skold and his fellow DPSAers feel, when they find these various poets’ graves, that they have found whatever it is that they are really looking for.
In “Man Carrying Thing,” Stevens writes of “[a] horror of thoughts that suddenly are real,” and how “[w]e must endure our thoughts all night, until / The bright obvious stands motionless in cold.” Maybe that is the object of the search, and the bright obvious is death. A death that poets want to see and master. Not to fear it, but to transcend it. To find (Stevens again) “Not Ideas About the Thing, but the Thing Itself.”
Commonly, ghosts are believed to be made of some subtle and misty material. That’s sort of a common belief concerning poetry, too: hard to grasp, otherworldly. That’s not intended as a criticism. According to the Wikipedia entry for "Ghost,"anthropologists speculate that this belief about the composition of ghosts arises “from early beliefs that ghosts were the person within the person . . . most noticeable in ancient cultures as a person’s breath, which upon exhaling in colder climates appears visibly as a white mist.”
The person within the person. The life within the life. Some other realm mysterious with possibility. Poetry is dead. Long live poetry.
Transcript of Charles Osgood File: RESURRECTING DEAD POETS
Audio and Print at:
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.
Hear audio here
(Text) Today, April 23rd, is the recognized birthday of arguably the greatest writer of all time, William Shakespeare -- a good day, perhaps, to announce a new national literary holiday. Walter Skold is the founder of the Dead Poets Society of America, whose motto is "We Dig Dead Poets - You Dig?" The former schoolteacher and poet from Freeport today launched a 22-state, grand tour to promote Dead Poets Remembrance Day, which will be observed, he says, on October 7th -- the anniversary of the death of Edgar Allan Poe.
"Let's start a new holiday," Skold (above, right) says. "Let's have October 7th, when Poe died, when many people go to his grave, let's make that a day to remember all the poets who have died."
"Welcome to the first dead poets bash on the dead poets grand tour." Maine Poet Laureate Betsy Sholl addressed around a dozen poets and poetry lovers who had assembed at Portland's breezy Eastern Cemetery to read some of their favorite poems and honor the words of those have gone before. "I'm the first of 13 current and former state poets laureate to be meeting the Poemobile on its 34-day journey."
The Poemobile, Skold explains, will be well-equipped for the journey. "The Poemobile's a souped up Sprinter with solar power, so we can power all our cameras and computers inside and go on the road," he says. "We're going to go 6,000 miles in it, it's a great car, it's called DEDGAR -- that's the license plate -- which is 'dead Edgar.'"
Tom Porter: "We're in the Eastern Cemetery in Portland, any dead poets here? Why did you choose this venue?"
Walter Skold: "We chose the venue because Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of his most famous poems called 'My Lost Youth,' mentions a battle during the War of 1812, when he was a 7-year-old boy, and in that battle it talks about the British and American sea captains who were killed, and so today, while there are no dead poets here, both of those of sea captains were buried here next to each other."
"I remember the sea fight far away, how it thundered o'er the tide and the dead captains as they lay in their graves, overlooking the tranquil bay where they in battle died," reads poet Simon Winslow, from Longfellow's Poem "My Lost Youth."
Also on hand, Portland's current poet Laureate Steven Luttrell (above), who chose some poems by sometime Maine resident, the late Robert Creeley:
"Those rivers run from that land to sea
The wind finds trees to move then goes again
And me, why me, on any day
Might be favored with kind prosperity
Or sunk in wretched misery."
"For me today it was great because I was reading a friend," Luttrell says. "I knew Bob Creeley so to being able to read a friend's poems and honor him in that way was kind of special for me. For living poets to get together to honor deceased poets, I think, is somehow a very complete circle, and it's good."
"Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time." Ken Nye, who as well as being a respected Maine poet is also a retired high school principal and University of Southern Maine professor, chose to honor the bard on his 446th birthday with a reading from MacBeth. "And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle."
This event was the first of 13 planned graveside poetry readings across the country to raise awareness of the new holiday. Stops along the 34-day pilgrimage include Lincoln's tomb in Springfield Illinois, the Poe Museum in Richmond Virginia, and Swan Point cemetery in Providence Rhode Island, where Edgar Allan Poe courted the poetess Sarah Whitman.
Walter Skold, who himself writes poetry, founded the Dead Poets Society of America a couple of years ago after visiting the grave of Robert Frost in Vermont and coming to the realization that there are many lesser known poets whose resting places lie unvisited.
"People go to Longfellow, they go to Poe, they go to Frost, but there are so many others that they don't visit," he says. Wouldn't it be a good idea, he thought, to start visiting, and documenting, the final resting places of as many poets as possible in order to raise people's apprecation of those who have gone before?
"They're kind of 'doubly dead poets' because after they die physically they might have been popular in their day or in their area, but now they're like dead again, because their books aren't published and no one even knows they were poets," Skold says.
Last year Skold traveled 15,000 miles in the Poemobile, documenting the graves of some 150 poets in 23 states -- many of them previously unknown to him.
"I'm finding that they're usually famous locally or regionally," he says. "So when I for instance would meet Coleman Barks in Georgia, he told me of three other poets that were friends of his that I never knew, so I went to their graves and he read their poetry, so definitely when you start digging you will find new poets and people will come up to you and say 'What about this person?'"
Digging, in this case, is meant in a figurative sense. Skold, who's taking a documentary camera crew with him on his trip, estimates there are over 400 American poets whose graves have yet to be well-documented. To try and help do this, the Society, thanks to an anonymous donor, is offering $4,000 in prize money as part of a photo and video contest to help locate the graves.
Skold is hoping the challenge will bring together high school students, poetry-lovers and local historians to help find and photograph these forgotten slices of literary history.
For more information visit the website of the Dead Poets Society of America, www.deadpoes.org
Founder of Dead Poets Society visits bards' graves
David Sharp, Associated Press ; All Saint’s Day, November 1, 2009
CUNDY'S HARBOR, Maine – On the big screen, the leader of the Dead Poets Society at an all-boys prep school was an inspirational teacher played by Robin Williams.
In real life, it's a balding amateur poet who drives around in his "Poemobile," visiting and documenting the graves of dead poets and calling attention to their works.
Walter Skold, founder of the Dead Poets Society of America, just finished a three-month road trip in which he visited the graves of 150 poets in 23 states. Skold boasts that he set a literary land speed record of 1.66 gpd (graves per day) over the course of his 15,000-mile journey.
While his graveside poetry readings — and occasional cemetery sleepovers — evoke the macabre, Skold insists his intentions are honorable.
"It's not really a morbid project but rather a way to honor our literary forebearers and to historically resurrect their works," Skold said.
His reports, which sometimes include offbeat tombstone art, are posted online; he encourages others to get out and find the graves of dead poets and to post their video and photos online.
Skold, 49, of Freeport, founded Dead Poets Society of America a year ago, leaving his job as a public school technology teacher to pursue his passions of poetry and photography. For his trip, he bought a used cargo van with a rack for cameras and supplies, shelves for books and a desk that, in a pinch, doubles as a bed.
Over the course of his 90-day journey, Skold visited the gravesites of giants of the poetry world including Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, as well as lesser-known poets like Dudley Randall, whose Broadside Press published many leading African-American writers.
He's making a film documentary called "Finding Frost: Digging Up America's Dead Poets." Next year, he hopes to scout out America's dead poets buried in Europe.
He was especially intrigued by poets who've been forgotten altogether. He calls them the "doubly dead" because they suffered a second death when their works were "slowly consigned to literary oblivion." Some of those include Madison Cawein, Eugene Fields, Virginia Boyle and Elizabeth Hollister Frost, he said.
Skold also discovered that the final resting places of many poets — dead or doubly dead — are unknown. In Maine alone, he found 29 poets whose final resting places are a mystery to the public.
"So many of these individual poets have such interesting stories and such interesting lives that I really feel it's a shame that they've been lost to our literary imagination or our literary history," he said. "I'm trying to bring back people's works and lives who have value and who have been forgotten for one reason or another."
The Library of Congress believes Skold's effort is the first such literary undertaking, said Peter Armenti, digital reference specialist whose focus is poetry.
Many of the poets' grave locations are well-documented, but only to scholars and poetry buffs, Armenti said. Skold's effort attempts to make the poets' information accessible to the general public, and in doing so generate some interest in America's poets.
"I just think it's a fascinating project," Armenti said. "I'm glad somebody's doing it."
Skold's project has the blessing of nine state poets laureate, each of whom was enlisted to participate in poetry readings during his road trip.
South Carolina's poet laureate joined Skold at Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston for a reading of a poem by Henry Timrod, whose work is believed to have inspired Bob Dylan.
"It's quirky and interesting in the best way," Marjory Wentworth said from South Carolina. "My hope, long-term, is that it's going to bring people to poetry who might not otherwise be interested. Anything that increases the audience for poetry is a good thing."
In Tennessee, poet laureate Margaret Vaughn said she respects Skold's ambitious goal. She, too, has been documenting poets' graves, as well as writing original poetry for each.
"I know what it takes. I've been doing it for 10 years. He's got the passion. That's what it takes to do this, passion," she said from her studio in Bell Buckle, Tenn.
On a recent afternoon, Skold was in Cundy's Harbor at the burial site of Robert P. Tristram Coffin, who won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1936. The Poemobile, named for Edgar Allan Poe, was parked across the street with the bumper sticker, "I brake for old graveyards."
Wearing a T-shirt from Poe's Tavern in South Carolina, where Poe spent a year in the Army, Skold quickly set a video camera on a tripod and then used a rake from a neighbor and a copy of Coffin's poem "An Old Man Raking Leaves" to create tombstone art on a brisk autumn day.
He likes to surprise with his tombstone art.
For example, he placed a scarlet "H" on the tombstone of Nathaniel Hawthorne, who penned "The Scarlet Letter." At Longfellow's memorial, he set fire to a portrait of the poet's second wife to underscore her fiery death, which tormented the poet and inspired "The Cross of Snow."
Skold encourages others to take up his cause on All Saint's Day by going to graveyards, preferably during the day, to document poets' graves and read their poetry.
Visiting a graveyard at night can be a dicey proposition and requires special permission. Skold learned that lesson the hard way last Halloween when he was nearly arrested in Malden, Mass., where he and his son lit torches at the tomb of the Rev. Michael Wigglesworth, Puritan author of the "Day of Doom."
"Little did I know that there was a little woman who watches over the cemetery and she told the police that there were people performing satanic rituals," he said.
A 22-state tour celebrating America's great poets begins in Portland
By DAVID SHARP The Associated Press April 24th, 2010
PORTLAND - The former teacher who founded the Dead Poets Society of America and traveled 15,000 miles to document the graves of poets has a new mission: to create a Dead Poets Remembrance Day on Oct. 7, the date master of the macabre Edgar Allan Poe died.
Walter Skold of Freeport, the founder of the Dead Poets Society of America, will hold readings in cemeteries as far south as Virginia and and as far west as Iowa. Robert F. Bukaty/The Associated Press
Walter Skold of Freeport launched his new endeavor Friday, beginning a 22-state tour of the graves of dead poets. He has enlisted 13 current and former state poets laureate to help drum up support.
His "Dead Poets Grand Tour 2010" began on what's believed to be the anniversary of William Shakespeare's birth, in 1564, with a poetry reading at Portland's Eastern Cemetery, the burial place of British and American sea captains cited in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "My Lost Youth."
"Of course, it takes a little chutzpah to say we're starting a holiday," said Skold, 49, who left his job as a public school technology teacher to pursue his passions of poetry and photography. "But we believe it's a really good idea, and we hope it catches on nationwide."
As in last year's tour, Skold will drive a boxy cargo van, called the Poemobile, to graveyards. But this year, he will be accompanied by a couple from Georgia, who will film the journey for a documentary they hope to make.
Having learned from past mistakes, Skold sought permission from cemeteries ahead of time so there's no suspicion about satanic rituals or disrespectful behavior.
The idea of a day of remembrance was inspired by Skold's discovery that the nation's literary forebears have been neglected. Communities have readings at the graves of Poe, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Anne Sexton and other famous poets, but many others are in danger of being forgotten, he said.
Wisconsin's poet laureate, Marilyn L. Taylor, said Dead Poets Remembrance Day is a wonderful idea.
"There's all kinds of commemorative dates, for things like National Potato Week or something like that," she said. "And I think it's time that the poets got some recognition."
Tennessee's poet laureate, Margaret Vaughn, noted that April is National Poetry Month. She said it would be nice to have a day set aside to honor poets.
"When people write speeches, it's poets that they quote most of the time," she said. "To take one day to really recognize them would be great."
Since founding the Dead Poets Society of America in 2008, Skold and others have documented the final resting places of hundreds of poets. All told, he has a list of the graves of more than 600 American poets.
For the trip, Skold has printed T-shirts with a rock tour-style list of stops, including Abraham Lincoln's tomb in Springfield, Ill., the Poe Museum in Richmond, Va., and Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, R.I., where Poe courted poet Sarah Helen Whitman. The farthest west he'll go is Iowa City, Iowa. Eventually, he hopes his travels reach West Coast cities.
Skold insists that the events are about history and celebrating the lives of the poets, but he's not above a little graveyard humor. The society's motto is: "We Dig Dead Poets You Dig?"
Modern poets dig the attention he's generating.
"Dead or alive," Taylor said, "I think that Walter is seeing to it that we gain a little higher profile through this and also give our sincere respects to these people who have gone before us and on whose shoulders we're all standing as we write our 20th- and 21st-century poems."
For Immediate Release Dead Poets Society of America
Contact Walter Skold at 207-449-8122
Literary Road Trip To Visit 80 Western Poets’ Graves
April 1st, Freeport, Maine-- Kerouac hitchhiked, Steinbeck had Rocinante, and Ken Kesey journeyed in Further, but the Dead Poet Guy rides in Dedgar The Poemobile.
Maine Poet and Filmmaker, Walter Skold, is the Dead Poet Guy, and Dedgar the souped-up Dodge Sprinter that will carry Skold and his son as they head West in hopes of making literary history.
“We hope to reach grave number 400 on our quest to reach 500 poets’ graves,” said Skold, “So it’s Po’Ward on the Western States Grand Tour.”
The trio is heading out from Maine on April 7th and they hope to reach Billings, Montana by early July.
“Billings is where we are going to “Find Frost,” said the elder Skold, referring to the 1st grave of Marjorie Frost Fraser, the daughter of the world-famous Robert Lee Frost.
“Almost nobody knows that Marjorie Frost was a poet, and that after her death in 1934, at age 29, her parents had her book “Franconia” published posthumously,” said Skold.
In total Skold and his son hope to film at over 80 poets’ graves in a journey that will take them through all 11 Western states.
Skold already has about a dozen living poets signed-up along the way to read at the graves, and he has set up a special “Follow Dedgar” blog so that more readers can meet Dedgar along the route.
Skold’s son, Simon, who is a theatre professional and travel blogger, will help film but he’ll also give dramatic readings of his own.
“As the wander-lusting, blogging and drama-instructing son of a grave-digging, filmmaker-poet,” said the younger Skold, “This tour could prove to be more epic than Bill and Ted's wild adventure!”
“Seeing those great Western States and reviving the words of passed poets from ghost town to graveyard, I couldn't be more excited, “ he added.
His father, the Dead Poet Guy, says that another highlight of the journey will be visiting Rocinante at the Steinbeck Museum, in Salinas, California.
Rocinante is the camper that took John Steinbeck and his dog Charley around the USA in 1960 on a famous trip that has provided Skold with inspiration for his own pilgrimage.
The list of the well-known poets on Dedgar’s itinerary include, Denise Levertov, Charles Bukowski, D.H. Lawrence, Richard Hugo, and May Swenson.
“Probably a third of the poets we are remembering were some of the best of their era,” said Skold. “But others are the “doubly-dead” poets which we are trying to dig up and put back on the map.”
Doubly-dead is a term Skold uses to describe poets who were well-know when they died, but whose works were then largely forgotten by posterity.
“I’m also excited that the diversity of poets’ graves we’ll be discovering will include Native-American poets, Cowboy Poets, several former State Poets Laureate, and immigrant poets from nations like Iran, Japan, and Assyria,” he said.
Due to the ubiquity of social media Skold is hoping that people all over will follow Dedgar by watching the daily videos and pictures that he and his son plan post on the road.
“Kerouac didn’t have Facebook, but he did have a sense of adventure and a love for poetry, so I think we’ll discover many remarkable people as we travel the West,” hopes Skold.
“For instance, in Albuquerque we will join Beatlick Pamela Hirst and a group of friends at the grave of Beatlick Joe Speer,” he said.
Speer was a poet and traveling raconteur who is known locally as “Albuquerque’s Jack Kerouac.”
“He brought slamming below the Mason Dixon Line,” said Hirst, “And his newsletter Beatlick News was known as a "gem of the underground press."”
For nearly 20-years the two drove around in Speer’s VW Van and published his newsletter right out of the back while on the road.
“Beatlick Joe was buried in a pauper’s grave,” remarked Skold, “But in reading his poems and life story I can see he was a man who discovered and spread riches far and wide.”
Follow Dedgar and learn more about the trip at: FollowDedgar.org
Press Page for the Grant Tour : http://deadpoets.typepad.com/press/
Photos for Press: http://deadpoets.typepad.com/press/2014/03/pictures-for-press.html