Town Poet Laureate Diane Lowman on The History of Everyday Poetry in Westport

A whole host of cultural illuminati have lived or worked in Westport for a time. Famously, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald wrote, and Desi loved Lucy. More recently, Lynsey Addario and Justin Paul graduated from Staples High School and went on to do amazing things. We can lay claim to talented residents in myriad fields.  When the town graciously selected me as its first Poet Laureate, a question arose about which famous poetic forebears (I am decidedly not famous) might have lived or written in Westport. A subsequent search yielded surprisingly little. A rumour that I plan to research had it that Robert Frost may have alit here for a while, but that is as yet as unconfirmed as a Yeti sighting.  Never mind, I thought. What about everyday poets and poetry? Part of my mission as inaugural Poet Laureate of our hamlet is to make poetry less mysterious and inaccessible, and to create community through what we can all share through words. So I decided to dig a bit into Westport’s more quotidian poetic life. It turns out that we have a rich and quirky history of verse, created by many little-known, but homegrown, bards.  My research has been neither exhaustive nor scientific, but I have found a great deal of poetry in some unexpected places. The Westport Museum for History and Culture and the Westport Library both yielded quite a few surprising finds:  Local Newspapers – Not far from the poetry section you will find several immense, heavy black leather-bound tomes, in no particular order, stacked on the bottom of one of the metal shelves. Open these to travel back in time to the mid-century past and thumb through the yellowing and fragile pages of Westport’s local newspapers. Features like “Pupil Patter”, “Poems by Pat”, and most prolifically, “Town Pump”, feature original verse by poetic locals. You will also find news stories …

A Note From The Executive Director About Re-Opening

Like you, we thrive on the personal interaction that comes with a face to face museum experience. We love nothing more than sharing our passion for history—and bringing it to life—for our patrons from this community and beyond. As museums and cultural institutions around Connecticut are beginning to re-open our visitors have asked us: When will I be able to visit Westport Museum again? The exciting news is that our Virtual Museum initiative—created to respond to COVID– has allowed us to focus on engaging the public in a way that we never have before, reaching thousands of people weekly and growing. The sad news is that we will be remaining closed—not because we want to, but because we have to. Why? The reasons are several:  Even though our state has happily seen a decrease in COVID cases, our museum is housed in an antique building with small rooms and an aged HVAC system. While we follow strict guidelines for surface decontamination, mask and glove protocols, and staggered scheduling for staff working in the building, our space is without air filtration or the cross-ventilation needed to host more than one or two visitors at a time. Another, equally pressing, reason to remain closed relates to the internal structure of the Bradley-Wheeler House in which the museum is maintained.  At the current time, there is a major structural failure in the center of the building that was left unaddressed for many years and exacerbated by aspects of the way the building was used. This failure was re-identified one year ago during a grant-funded building and collections assessment and we have spent the last twelve months working toward remediation. It will take will take a lot of time and a lot of financial resources to ultimately fix. We will be sharing more details about this …