http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2008/05/23/a-poet-laureate-for-danville


DanvilleSanRamon.com

Newsfront - May 23, 2008

A poet laureate for Danville?

Resident touts joy of poetry to Town Council

by Meghan Neal

"Poetry puts flowers on life's table," said Elm Battersby at the Town Council meeting May 6.

The resident poet suggested at the meeting that Danville appoint a poet laureate, and said she personally would be interested in the position.

"A poet laureate brings together people who have not discovered their creativity yet, who have not discovered the joys of reading poetry and the benefits of poetry," she said.

"It's an art that has been forgotten, really. If people read poetry it relieves stress, it creates pictures in their mind, and gives them a chance to fantasize and to dream and to see the world through different eyes."

Poet laureate is an appointed post dating back to 15th century England, originally established to entertain the king. It has since become an honorary position on the national, state and sometimes local levels, whose duties generally consist of writing poems for ceremonies, dedications or other events.

"To add a little culture, if you will - a little art," said Battersby. "I thought, gee, the towns around us have a poet laureate and Danville doesn't have one."

Dublin, San Ramon, Walnut Creek and Pleasanton all have a poet laureate. In the last two years there's been somewhat of a renaissance toward towns establishing the old-fashioned post, said Danville Mayor Candace Andersen.

"In my mind having a poet laureate in Danville is certainly an idea worth exploring," she said.

Per procedure the council did not discuss the idea at the meeting but said it will consider putting it on the agenda in the future.

Andersen said she thinks this year would be an appropriate time to start the position, just in time for Danville's bicentennial celebration. In fact, that's what first put the seed in Battersby's head. She's already written a poem for the big anniversary, which she read aloud to folks at the meeting.

Battersby teaches limericks to seniors at the Veteran's Hall in Danville. The half-Irish poet has a particular affinity for the funny writing form; she'll write a limerick for just about any occasion and loves the way they bring a smile to people's faces.

"I was introduced very early in my life to the limerick. And it caught on, man, it's in the blood," she said. "In five lines you can tell a story. And everybody has a story. Everybody sees things in their own unique way."

Included in her collection of unpublished work are hundreds of limericks, she said. She's also published several poems, a fiction book called "Even as it Stings" and a children's story titled "Missy BJ."

If the town does decide to establish a poet laureate, Battersby wouldn't necessarily be a shoo-in. All interested parties would be encouraged to apply and the council would choose the most qualified candidate, Andersen said.

"I'm sure there are many closeted poets in Danville just waiting to express themselves," speculated the mayor.

Battersby said she would be deeply honored to be named.

"Poetry and the literary arts mean so much to me," she said. "I would do this every day. It's my life."

150th anniversary poem

Danville limerick

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