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Hooray to Poetry Stamps!

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© United States Postal Service. All rights reserved.

The following is a guest post by Caitlin Rizzo, staffer for the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress.

This year the United States Postal Service unveiled a new series of “forever” stamps commemorating ten of the most enduring American poets. The list includes quite a few Poets Laureate and Consultants in Poetry―from Joseph Brodsky, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Robert Hayden to Elizabeth Bishop and William Carlos Williams―alongside a host of other amazing poets, including Sylvia Plath, Denise Levertov, E. E. Cummings, Theodore Roethke, and Wallace Stevens.

For poets and poetry lovers, the stamps serve as a national reminder of the importance of art as part of our identity as Americans. Of course, plastered to an envelope headed back to the mysterious office that holds my student loan debt, a poetry stamp reminds me why I choose the path I did and how a liberal arts degree really is worth something (I swear).

I should admit to having a nearly full sheet of stamps on the kitchen table next to the yellow cow that holds my coffee creamer, a gift from my mother. She’s one of the many people who live their lives apart from poetry―who work hard and care for others and love fiercely without ever feeling the need to craft a sestina or set a line to meter. But poetry touches her life through me. I love that she called to say she bought stamps with a bunch of poets on them, that she turned them over to notice the back even had pieces of their poems.

If you are coming to this blog, chances are that you already love poetry, and you know how difficult it can be to devote yourself to an art that “no one reads,” that’s “too difficult,” or “not relevant.” You also know how meaningful it is to see people become excited about poetry or to talk about poetry in unexpected places (the grocery store, the mall, the Post Office). Luckily, the USPS has given us the opportunity for a million shared moments―however small, however banal or everyday―to talk about poetry, to think about poetry, to thank our mothers for the gift of a few words which mean so much.

Comments (7)

  1. Thank you, Caitlin. Good news and a nice post!

  2. This is poetry itself

  3. No Emily or Walt?

  4. Thank you very much! Special gratitude for my “odnofamilitsa” Denise Levertov!

  5. Wonderful. I hope you will offer poets again and will include William Stafford, who had had been the 20th Poet Laureate (Consultant to Poetry)1970-1971 and Oregon’s Poet Larueate from 1975-1989. He authored more than 50 books and won the National Book award, and Western States Book Award for lifetime achievement in poetry.

  6. Dear Caitlin!
    Put, please, in your message texts of verses of the poets, printed on the back (reverse) of the post blog.

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