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By Roz Rogoff

About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Percy Dovetonsils would approve

Uploaded: Apr 18, 2013
My last blog on Gun Control was a tad controversial. So this week I shall write on about National Poetry Month, which should be not at all controversial.

Percy Dovetonsils was the Poet Laureate character played by the brilliant Ernie Kovaks on his 1950's TV show. Percy would recite a poem every week on the show.

San Ramon's Poet Laureate, Kathy Moore, is more up to date. She is emailing a poem a day this month in honor of National Poetry Month. Two of the poems she recently emailed out seemed particularly relevant to me.

One that hit home is Billy Collins' "Forgetfulness." Collins is about one year older than I am. Click the link on the title to read the poem and hear Collins recite it. If Percy Dovetonsils doesn't give you a chuckle, Collins should for anyone over 50.

Today, April 18th, is "Poem in your pocket," day. One of my favorite poems is William Wordsworth's "Daffodils." I printed it out and put it in my pocket, but it shouldn't be kept hidden away. Click here to hear Oscar winning actor, Jeremy Irons, recite this magnificent ode to flowers. Wordsworth, who is so aptly named, creates a marvelous visual treat with his words.

That's what poetry is about. It's not just that it rhymes, even though I miss rhyming in most contemporary poetry today. Poetry is painting pictures with words. It's creating an emotional atmosphere through vocabulary and meter.

I was particularly touched by the poem Kathy Moore sent on April 16th, the day after the Boston bombing.


When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and
my children's lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests
in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the
presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free."
- Wendell Berry

It is the right poem to help us get through this wrong time. I emailed Kathy about her choice of each poem. Here's what she said about how she picks the poem to send out each day and the Collins and Berry poems in particular.

"Hi Roz,

Thanks for the feedback. This Poem A Day project is something I have done each April for the past ten years. I began by initially sending it to my colleagues at the SRVUSD district office, but over the years, people have forwarded the daily poems to friends and dozens of others have asked to be added to my distribution list. Some high school teachers on my list share the poem with their students each day; others share those that they find particularly meaningful or connected to the curriculum. The most interesting part for me is that every single day I hear from someone (or two, or occasionally ten) who says, "today's poem was my very favorite!"

Here's my process – I collect poems that I love over the course of the year and store them in an electronic file. Every morning, I look through my collection and select one that matches my mood!

The Billy Collins poem I took from his website:

(Billy Collins, "Forgetfulness" from Sailing Around the Room: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2002. Random House.)

The Wendell Berry selection can be found at
(Wendell Berry, "The Peace of Wild Things" from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry. Copyright © 1998. Published and reprinted by arrangement with Counterpoint Press. Source: Collected Poems 1957-1982 Counterpoint Press, 1985)

I asked Kathy if she chose Wendell Berry's poem as a response to the bombing.

"Yes, that's the reason for choosing it. I really do believe in the healing power of words, of poetry's ability to help us make sense of the world."

To be added to Kathy Moore's, Poem a Day email, contact her at

Percy Dovetonsils would approve. Kovaks, along with Jonathan Winters, brought a new brand of wacky, character-based comedy to TV. Unfortunately Kovaks was killed in an automobile crash in 1962, and we lost his great talent.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Apr 19, 2013 at 11:22 am

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Here's Kathy Moore's poem for today. It's by Vladimir Nabokov, who is most famous for his novel, "Lolita." I had to read it several times to get it all. It has an internal rhyming scheme too, which isn't obvious. Great selection.

Subject: National Poetry Month

Somedays we need poetry more than feels like one of those

The Poem
Vladimir Nabokov

Not the sunset poem you make when you think
with its linden tree in India ink
and the telegraph wires across its pink

not the mirror in you and her delicate bare shoulder still glimmering
there; not the lyrical click of a pocket rhyme- the tiny music that
tells the time;

and not the pennies and weights on those evening papers piled up in the
rain; not the cacodemons of carnal pain; not the things you can say so
much better in plain prose-

but the poem that hurtles from heights unknown -when you wait for the
splash of the stone deep below, and grope for your pen, and then comes
the shiver, and then-

in the tangle of sounds, the leopards of words, the leaflike insects,
the eye-spotted birds fuse and form a silent, intense, mimetic pattern
of perfect sense.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Apr 21, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

I just received an email from an old friend, Lenore Weiss. I knew Lenore many years ago when we were both in the East Bay Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC). This is an organization of Technical Writers and Illustrators.

Lenore had leanings towards being a poet but she had to earn a living, so she was also a Technical Writer. Now she is able to spend more time with her poetry.

She posted a list of upcoming readings in May on her blog. Here's a link for those of you who want to attend a poetry reading by a talented lady. Web Link


Posted by Dirka_Dirka, a resident of San Ramon,
on Apr 22, 2013 at 8:38 pm

When people cower for political correctness
They often lose sight of what a mess is
Ignoring simples words of light
Ignoring the purpose of the bill of rights

It?s not important anymore
Constitutions are such a bore
What?s right for me is better for you
That?s why our state's such a pretty blue

And so the majority of nine will lay it down
The law of the land from which it was ground
Now the Dirka needs to eat
So off we go to shoot some meat

Dirka Dirka Bakala - - Sherpa Sherpa
2nd Amendment Poet Laureate of San Ramon and Goat Farmer
Drink the goat milk it?s good for socialists and gun grabbers too.

Posted by Meryl Place, a resident of San Ramon,
on Apr 23, 2013 at 10:56 am

LMFAO, this person is pretty funny and makes good points.

Posted by james564, a resident of Bordeaux Estates,
on Oct 9, 2017 at 3:47 am

james564 is a registered user.

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