Saturday, January 17, 2015

Why I Will not Likely become South Carolina Poet Laureate

     Some states rotate poets in this office, but South Carolina appears to keep the same person for some time. Marjory Wentworth has been the sixth poet to hold the position, starting in 2003. However, this week the poem she wrote for Governor Nikki Haley's second inauguration was cut from the ceremony due to time constraints. The poem takes about three minutes to read; people can draw their own conclusions.

     "One River, One Boat" touches on some not-so--glorious themes from state history, such as slavery, the Confederate flag that used to wave from the state capitol (no waving across
 the street) and a legal system that did not treat everyone fairly. I will tell my non-US readers that South Carolina had a majority slave population prior to the Civil War, and was the first state to secede from the Union.

     U.S. Congressman James Clyburn, south Carolina's only Democrat and only African-American in the House of Representatives, read the poem on the floor of House, which apparently has enough time on its schedule.

    Tongue-in-cheek, my wife suggested I could become South Carolina Poet Laureate one day. For all I know, that could be in the cards. Whenever Wentworth vacates the office, there are a number of more prominent poets here who are very gifted, more than myself. Wentworth hails from Massachusetts; I am from Pennsylvania, which is closer to South Carolina. In April 2015 I will have been here ten years, and most people are friendly to me.

   One exception was a woman behind me in the supermarket who for some reason was mouthing off about Obamacare. I told her I wore a uniform to protect her right of free speech, but I wished to exercise mine by telling her I did not agree with her views on what I pointedly referred to as the Affordable Healthcare Act. Looking angrily at my Pittsburgh Pirates cap, she told me to go back where I came from, "We don't want you here!"
    In my suavest James Mason voice, I smiled and asked if she had taken her meds that day.

   Anti-secessionist James L. Petigru hit the nail on the head in 1860: South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum." 

    Here are some links my wife sent me. And keep you eyes peeled on future gubernatorial inaugurations down here, because you never know!

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