A Tale Of Two Poets: When Vt., NH Poets Laureate Both Called Thetford Home

Feb 22, 2019

If you lived in Thetford, Vermont in October 2005, you must have felt the special energy. Not everyone in town started speaking in iambic hexameter or in A-A-B-B rhyme schemes, but you had to feel the poetic force that was present. Because for about a week back, something happened in Thetford that has probably never happened in any other city or town anywhere, before or since: Thetford was home to two current state poets laureate.

The late Grace Paley was Vermont's poet laureate at the time and living there. Then Cynthia Huntington, the reigning poet laureate of New Hampshire, moved to town. Talk about enjambment.

Recently, VPR's Ric Cengeri tracked down poet Cynthia Huntington to discuss this major confluence of exalted poets.

"I think it was about a week before they caught on to me that I had absconded with the laureateship to a neighboring state," Huntington explained.

"Actually, I had informed them but there was a little time in between before they could find another poet." This allowed her to became what she termed as the "poet laureate in exile."

Huntington recalled that a great convergence of poets laureate took place at "the heart and soul, the center of Thetford." That would be the town's recycling center, where the two writers would see each other almost every week. Huntington said she was even registered to vote there "in front of the recycling bins."

Listen to the full interview above to hear more about that week in October 2005 when the poetry world stood still.

Broadcast on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.