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 …