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Poet laureate mesmerizes crowd with rhyme and reason at HCC

April 12, 2005|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Michael Glaser said he often is the first person to remind others that just because he is Maryland's current poet laureate that does not mean he is the best poet in the state.

One could hardly come to that conclusion on Monday as a group of about 40 people at Hagerstown Community College hung on his every utterance and, aside from the occasional chuckle, made nearly none of their own.

Glaser, who spoke at Kepler Theater, was chosen for the 17th Annual Kreykenbohm Lecture, a series dedicated to Helen Kreykenbohm, who began her long stint at the college as a teacher in 1946, said Terrie Angle, chair of the college's English and humanities department.

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Glaser, a Chicago native and a veteran professor at St. Mary's College of Maryland, read poems that touched on a wide range of subjects from embarrassing experiences he had as a schoolboy to the fright of his daughter getting a driver's license to the sorrow of hard-to-understand tragedies and world events.

For Glaser, traveling around the state has become the rule more than the exception since being named poet laureate in August 2004 by Gov. Robert Ehrlich. Glaser said every appearance is an opportunity to celebrate his love for poetry with others.

"(Literature and poetry) is the honest representation of the language, without spin or without trying to sell us something we don't need," Glaser said.

Smithsburg resident Billie Boyer said Monday's event was a treat because of the lack of public readings from the state's top poets in Hagerstown.

"I love poetry. It does for me what music does for most other people," she said.

Her daughter Brooke Allen, a North Hagerstown High School teacher, purchased some of Glaser's books because she believes her students would relate to his work.

"It takes a memory and makes an impression," Allen said. "I'd like to get kids into it."

Kristabelle Delacruz, a North student, said she got into several of Glaser's poems and outlook on poetry.

"The way he spoke about poetry, the feeling of it to him, was great," she said.

Askold Skalsky, an instructor at the college and a poet himself, said he was impressed with Glaser's delivery and that he read work from other poets instead of the common practice of many poets who exclusively read their own.

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