Sunday, February 19, 2017

February 19: Poet Laureate of the U. P., Donald Hall, "Final"

In case you missed the announcement last night, Donald Hall, former U. S. Poet Laureate, announced the name on the next Poet Laureate of the U. P.  It was an out-of-body experience.  I sat in the television studio with my fellow nominee, Kathleen Heideman.  He congratulated both Kathleen and myself, and then he cleared his throat and said, "And now the name of 2017-2018 U. P. Poet Laureate is . . ." 

His voice was like stones in a washing machine, spinning and rumbling.  That moment in between "is" and the name took a couple of decades.  Finally, he said . . . my name.

I felt like Charlton Heston on the mountain in The Ten Commandments, listening to the voice of God.  Donald Hall said my name.

I never win anything, so I had prepared myself for Kathleen to be crowned.  She would have been fantastic.  Articulate and passionate.

So, I have a lot of thank yous to say tonight.  A lot of people who voted for me.  A lot of people who put up with my craziness over the last few months.  My wife and kids.  My sisters and parents.  My friends who asked their friends who asked their friends.  And my readers.

Thank you all.

Saint Marty is the Poet Laureate of the Upper Peninsula.


by:  Martin Achatz

I watch this student take
His final exam, hunched over
His desk, Ticonderoga No. 2 moving
Like a Geiger counter needle
Across the page as he answers
My essay question.  I want
To tell him it doesn't matter,
This hour-long effort to earn
An "A" in my course called
Good Books.  Whether he makes
The Dean's List or not, he won't
Win back the friendship
Of the boy he loved in high school
Who broke my student's nose
When my student confessed
His feelings.  He won't bring
His mother back from Florida,
Where she ran after her psych meds
Failed and she saw Hitler
Buying cabbage at Walmart.
I'm lonely, my student wrote
In his journal.  I have no
Friends.  My family's shit.
My test will not change
Any of these things.  Yet,
My student writes and writes,
In search of acceptance,
Praise, the perfect 4.0 life.
The final question I ask him
Is simple:  What have you learned
About hope in this class?