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State poet laureate visits St. Maria Goretti

August 04, 2013
  • Maryland Poet Laureate Stanley Plumly visited St. Maria Goretti High School in May and spoke to several of the schools English classes. From left, Will Snyder and Amber deSantis, both sophomores, Plumly, and the students' English teachers, Marty Amrhein and Sam Cuthbert.
Submitted photo

Maryland Poet Laureate  Stanley Plumly  spoke to the 10th and 11th grade English classes at St. Maria Goretti High School in May.

A professor of English and head of the creative writing department at the University of Maryland, Plumly is a widely published poet and writer.

His first collection, “In the Outer Dark,” won the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award. His third, collection “Out-of-the-Body Travel,” was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

“We (were)  thrilled and delighted to have the poet laureate speaking to our students,” said Marty Amrhein, who taught her English students world literature throughout the school year.

In the classroom, Plumly fielded questions from students, shared his perspective on writing and read a few of his own poems.

“You have to have a sense of the beginning, middle and end before you begin to write a story,” Plumly said.

“When you read a poem out loud, you have to read it at half the speed you usually read. If you just slow down, you’ll hear things differently.”

Plumly urged students to “tell the truth to yourself about your experiences as you move through life.”

About writing poetry, he asked students to “try to represent an emotional state or moment or memory as best you can. Because if you get that more or less right — that is, if it has what we loosely call the truth — that’s an achievement.”

He concluded each of his class visits by reading some of his own poetry.

St. Maria Goretti High School, a Catholic, coeducational, college preparatory school, is off Oak Hill Avenue in Hagerstown.

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