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Poetic License

Professor of English Cynthia Huntington is following in the footsteps of renowned poets Richard Frost, Maxine Kumin, and Richard Eberhardt by serving as New Hampshire's newest poet laureate. The author of four books and chair of the College's creative writing program, Huntington officially assumed the role March 22.

Cynthia Huntington
Cynthia Huntington (photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

Although unpaid and largely honorary, Huntington believes the poet laureate position is a demonstration that poetry still matters. "Poetry exists outside our market economy," she says, noting that writing and publishing poetry rarely are profitable. "The appetite to find meaning outside the market is huge."

Huntington was nominated by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and New Hampshire governor Craig Benson. She has been active in arts-related organizations around the state for several years, serving as trustee of the New Hampshire Writers' Project and working with the state Council on the Humanities, among others. She has not decided what her agenda during the five-year appointment will be, but she is considering expanding projects she already is involved in, such as working with adult learners and doing poetry readings around the state.

While honored by her new title, Huntington points out that New Hampshire-and Dartmouth-are rich with writing talent.

"This [honor] certainly doesn't mean I'm the best poet in the state; it's just my turn to stand up and speak for all of us," she says. "Dartmouth has such a distinguished creative writing program, with faculty who are always doing amazing things. I think this is just one more in an unending series of awards that our faculty has earned."

Huntington's own honors in recent years include the 2001 Levis Poetry Prize and the 1998 New Hampshire Writers' Project Jane Kenyon Award for Outstanding Book of Poetry. She also has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, The MacDowell Colony, and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland.

Lenore Grenoble, associate dean for the humanities, applauds Huntington's appointment. "I don't think the students who have taken classes with Cynthia would be surprised at her appointment; they've seen firsthand how generous and talented she is and how generous with her time," she says. "Her new role as poet laureate will allow her to share those qualities with a broader audience."

- By Tamara Steinert

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Last Updated: 5/30/08