Time will tell whether Arnie Reisman will be the most prolific and accomplished Poet Laureate of Martha’s Vineyard, but it’s a fair bet he’ll be the most humorous.
Last month Mr. Reisman became the Island’s second poet laureate, succeeding the redoubtable Lee McCormack, who was the first to hold the designation bestowed by the Martha’s Vineyard Poetry Society (MVPS).
Mr. Reisman is an award-winning writer, producer, and performer whose work has appeared on television, radio, film, in various publications, and theater. He is a panelist with his wife, Paula Lyons, on “Says You!” a long-running, zany quiz show on NPR. “Says You!” recorded a segment at the Whaling Church in Edgartown in August.
Mr. Reisman has penned several plays, including “Not Constantinople,” produced by the Vineyard Playhouse last July, as well as the unforgettable “The Sound and the Ferry” several years earlier.
Mr. Reisman will be welcomed to his new post at a reception on Tuesday, Oct. 7 at 7 pm at the Katharine Cornell Theatre in Vineyard Haven. Reached via email in the U.K. this week, Mr. Reisman said, “After being stunned and flattered, I hope to hit the streets waving Poetry’s banner. I see my mission is to show folks that poetry is with us always and not under an old rock, although it can be found there too.
“To think poetically is to think crisply, perceptively, tunefully. Like doing crossword puzzles. Reading or writing it, it’s good for what ails you. I hope to host some events and classes to help us all think of what’s poetry in our daily lives. I hope to bring fun to it. My muse, for example, is Billy Collins, our former U.S. Poet Laureate. Read him and you’ll understand my mission,” he said.
Poet Billy Collins describes his work as “hospitable.” Biographers say Mr. Collins favors lyrical simplicity over abstruse intellectualism. Several of his works have been set to animation.
The idea for a Martha’s Vineyard Poet Laureate was initiated in 2011 by the Martha’s Vineyard Poetry Society, marking the first time a position was created to designate an Island-wide poet laureate. MVPS was founded in 2008 by Island poet, author, and musician William Waterway.
The Martha’s Vineyard Poetry Society is a group of about 370 Island poets and supporters who seek to enhance the presence of poetry on the Vineyard and throughout the world. The Martha’s Vineyard Poetry Society promotes poetry on Martha’s Vineyard through education and through the support of existing and new poetry groups.
MVPS hosts and sponsors free public poetry events such as “Summer Solstice in Poetry and Song,” held at Featherstone Center for the Arts; “Winter Solstice in Poetry and Song,” held at the Vineyard Haven Public Library; and “A Gathering of Island Poets and Musicians” — a four-hour MVTV television production broadcast “live” via Comcast to the Island community. “Martha’s Vineyard Poem in Your Pocket Day (MVPIYPD)” is held in conjunction with National Poem in Your Pocket (PIYP) day; “Civil War Poetry” took place at the Vineyard Haven Public Library with support from the National Library Association and theNational Endowment for the Arts; and many other poetry programs on the Island are supported.