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Longtime Concord Monitor editor Mike Pride used to invite New Hampshire poets into the newsroom to speak with reporters about language. Pride passed away recently, and while I never met him, his legacy has clearly left its mark on journalism in the state.
Talking to poets struck me as an intriguing assignment, so I spoke with New Hampshire’s poet laureate, Alexandria Peary, about the state of poetry in New Hampshire. We also talked about teaching writing at a time when English departments and the humanities more broadly are being eviscerated at colleges, and her specialty: dealing with writer’s block, or, as she calls it, taking off the stone backpack of perfectionism.
“Training yourself to enter the present moment at the desk cures almost all problems,” she said.
Peary teaches creative writing at Salem State University and one of her favorite classes is a general education course for non majors.
“I feel like each semester, I see people kind of transform. All of a sudden, it’s sort of like they’re in touch with their unconscious and their creative spirit,” she said. She hopes that once the students leave her class, they’ll keep writing in their lives in some way moving forward.
“For me, the humanities make us human,” she said.
Peary said New Hampshire’s literary scene is vibrant and bustling. “I’m just amazed by the state because there’s so much going on in terms of creative writing,” she said.
She recommends the New Hampshire Poetry Society and Mike Nelson’s Beat Night in Portsmouth as starting places for those looking to get more involved.
And for those who want to read something inspirational right now, she recommends “The Idea of Order at Key West” by Wallace Stevens and “The Poet” by Jane Miller.
Peary shared some of her own poetry during my interview with her. You can read it here.
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Amanda Gokee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amanda_gokee.