The Mountain Times

┬░F Sun, April 20, 2014

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The dash

The Academy of American Poets first introduced National Poetry Month in 1996. It is celebrated every April and is meant to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry.

On April 15, the Killington Arts Guild (KAG) is celebrating at the Sherburne Memorial Library with an evening for the Gathering of Poets.

KAG has a long history of interest in poetry. George Lyons and his late wife Maureen commissioned the marble sculpture by Stephen Humphrey in the Killington Library Gardens.  It is "in memory of those lost on 9/11, their families and associates who survived - to seek the remaining beauties and paths through life." The many plants around it were taken from historic properties in the Killington area. KAG members wrote poems to accompany the monument, which was printed in 2003: "Essence of Life - Poems about a Sculpture." Poets could not decide whether the sculpture was a teardrop or clasped hands.

KAG held Poetry workshops for a number of years and finally brought poems from these poets together in a book, "A Gathering of Poets," edited by Betty A. Little with the assistance of Ann B. Day, published in 2008, with a cover by watercolorist Maurie Harrington, a view through the woods in the spring to ski slopes created by the artist.

David Weinstock writes in the introduction, In Praise of Poets, "For all poetry is local, and all artists, if we hope to bring anything good into the world, owe avid attention to the part of the world that is immediately at hand. Location does not limit us; it launches it."
A poem from the book: "The date of the death and the date of the birth are not so far it seems, the thing that really makes the difference is that little dash in between." Wrote Marguerite Loucks Dye 1917-2007.

Recently, I encountered the use of the word "dash" in that same context, and felt the power of poetry. At the funeral for a Vietnam Veteran many of the people who stood up honored him by recited poetry. The last poem was based on Linda Ellis' The Dash. One line reads  "-that dash represents all the time that he spent alive on earth. And now only those who loved him know what that little line is worth."