For poetry in the U.S., 1946 marked a memorable year. The nation naturalized W.H. Auden, who still also remained a Brit. Ezra Pound – declared to be of “unsound mind” for misadventures during World War II – landed in a Washington, D.C., psychiatric hospital for a dozen years. Gertrude Stein left the world; Patti Smith entered it.
And locally, the Saint Louis Poetry Center came into existence.
The metro area, of course, has enjoyed a long and illustrious background with “marquee” poets, including Sara Teasdale, who won the first award that would directly be reclassified as the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and T.S. Eliot, who ranks as one of the indisputable giants of 20th-century Anglo-American verse.
In that light, Erin Quick, the center’s executive director, makes an enthusiastic, even passionate case for the continuing significance of poetry – and, by extension, of the center itself.
“I think poetry has always been integral to life, though certainly there are aspects of our world today that make it uniquely so,” Quick remarks.
American poet, painter and social activist Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who died in February at the age of 101, supposedly once called verse “eternal graffiti written in the heart of everyone.” Quick relates that our cultural landscape calls for the life-affirming pulse of that graffiti, perhaps now more than ever.