Amid the annual celebration of National Poetry Month through Randolph’s PoemTown events, Bethel’s Danny Dover has something more to celebrate. One of his own poems by him was published in a highly regarded anthology alongside poets such as Joy Harjo and Tracy K. Smith.
“I like a poem to be surprising,” explained Dover. His “Floodwood Pond,” which was published this month in editor James Crew’s newest anthology “A Path to Kindness,” does just that, he said.
It’s a poem about a camping trip—but really, he said, “it takes you somewhere else.”
Although Dover has been writing poetry since college, it wasn’t until about 25 years ago that he felt compelled to share his work with others.
Before that, he said, he dabbled in writing “really bad poetry,” he’d been put off by the poetry taught in high school, and although he discovered some poets he enjoyed reading in college, it wasn’t until his father died that he began to feel his writing might be worthwhile.
“It usually takes something that shakes you up,” he said. After his father’s death from him, Dover started to see things differently and stretched his skills from him to be able to capture that in new ways through his poetry from him.
Dover doesn’t try to force his writing—he doesn’t journal, and he doesn’t read much poetry, he said. He never knows, exactly where the next poem will come from.
Because of that, he said, he never knows if a poem will be the last poem he ever writes.
His favorite poems are the ones that he starts writing without knowing exactly what they’re about.
“Floodwood Pond” was one of those, and he sent it to the poet James Crews, who lives in Vermont. Crews occasionally sends out poems to an email list, and Dover decided to send one his way from him.
Dover had sent it thinking Crews might enjoy reading it—but the same day Crews wrote back and asked if he could publish it in the anthology he was working on.
“The Path to Kindness” is the second anthology in Crews’ series—the first, “How to Love the World” was published in 2021.
That anthology, in addition to featuring Dover, includes poems from current and former US poet laureates, and other poets who carry varying degrees of fame, Dover said.
Dover doesn’t submit his own poetry for collections and journals anymore, so he was surprised when Crews asked to publish “Floodwood Pond.”
And, he said, it’s been exciting to be part of a project with so many poets he admires. His poem by him is published facing a poem by one of Dover’s role models, Ted Kooser, a former US poet laureate.
Dover has also been participating in PoemTown in Randolph this year. I have submitted a few poems for display around the village and floodplain forest, and read poems aloud at one of the four PoemTown events this year.
On April 13, at the White River Craft Center, he read poems, alongside Pamela Ahlen and Anne Bower, who had recently released a book of poetry together.
According to Janet Watton, one of the PoemTown organizers, Bower and Ahlen take themes from each other’s poems to write their own, making it especially fun to hear them read together.
The White River Craft Center reading was one of four PoemTown events held this month—the fourth and final event will be tonight at Chandler (see article on B5).
This year marks the first time since 2019 that PoemTown has been able to host its events during National Poetry Month—last year, some events did take place, but not until August, while in 2020, no in-person events were held.
The first event of the year was a staple of Randolph’s PoemTown events: Farmer Poets at the Sugarhouse, said Watton.
For that event, farmers read their original poetry at Silloway’s Sugarhouse.
“It was absolutely packed,” this year, she said, noting that it was the first time the event opened the PoemTown series. Usually, she said, it’s the finale.
A poetry open mic night at the craft center welcomed “absolutely anybody,” to get up and read their poems, said Watton—emphasizing that it’s a great space for budding poets to share work.
Tonight’s performance will be a collaboration between Aaron Marcus on piano and Sam Sanders reading poetry—primarily written by Vermont poets—Watton said.
Dover noted that he’s excited for tonight. He’s worked with Hancock’s Dorothy Robson, pairing his her poems with her original piano music inspired by them.
Pairing music and poetry enhances the poems, he believes, and he anticipates tonight’s event will be a rich experience.
“Poetry is a song,” he posited, making the pairing between piano and verse a natural one.