Fan Ogilvie: West Tisbury poet laureate
That West Tisbury designates a town poet laureate is in itself a tribute to the town; that it has such a rich pool of local talent to draw from is equally impressive.
The original idea for the laureateship came from author Cynthia Riggs, a long-time town resident whose mother, the late Dionis Coffin Riggs, a widely published and prolific poet, was referred to as the town's unofficial poet laureate.
In 2006, recommended by the West Tisbury Public Library trustees, the selectmen appointed Dan Waters of Indian Hill Press as the town's first poet laureate, and he served the maximum three-year term with distinction.
It is a position without salary, benefits, power, or supporting budget, and it commissions the holder of the title with no less than raising the community's awareness of poetry, writing one poem each year, and reading it at the annual town meeting.
This month, the post was awarded to Fan Ogilvie, who lives in Seven Gates with her husband, Donald. They have two grown children, Jennifer and Adam, who live off Island.
An award-winning poet, Ms. Ogilvie is more than up to the task. A Smith College graduate with a master's degree from George Washington University, she co-founded the Martha's Vineyard Point Way Writers Residency Program, helped to organize the Martha's Vineyard Writers Program, and, for more than a decade, taught poetry at Featherstone Center for the Arts in Oak Bluffs.
A special education teacher for 25 years, Ms. Ogilvie has organized poetry workshops and events in Washington, D.C., New Haven, Conn., New York City, as well as at Featherstone. She served as poet-in-residence at Nightingale-Bamford School in New York, and established the Folger Shakespeare Library's Poetry Board based in Washington, D.C.
Her works are published in poetry journals, anthologies, and collected volumes. Her first volume of poetry and prose, "You: Selected Poems and Knot: A Life," was published in January 2009, and covers the period from 1970 to 2008.
Ms. Ogilvie expressed her pleasure at being named poet laureate, saying: "I hope the residents of West Tisbury will let me know their favorite poems and poets, and that we have readings of the same in the library, the new Town Hall, in the schools, with seniors, the Ag Hall, or wherever we can."
it is who I am
but I am without it-
the whole cycle-
a fern, the wild
geranium, a field so full
of grass and mice
there is no running
can slow it down-
rich run of wind
silver foiling of grasses
deft ears of lost deer
honk of mad gander
like the barn swallow's
need for beams
turn the wheel, revolve
instead clouds racetrack the morning sky,
sun shoots mountains of ore, gold, silver,
red, lapis feathers perch on a copper beech,
windy illusions turn the head, heart following.
crow lands on grass like a dog settling.
stand in the middle of this field,
center of center, no way out-
doing nothing, nothing doing,
all around its changing.