Introducing Graham Everett

Whitman Musings / Long Island Poet of the Year

In 2014, I was named Long Island Poet of the Year. It was a wonderful honor, and the awards ceremony became a treasured memory.

So it was a distinct pleasure to give the introduction for this year’s honoree, Dr. Graham Everett. Graham Everett is the founder of Street Press, one of the most well respected independent poetry publishers on Long Island.

He also has a long literary legacy, having been active as a poet since the 1960’s. Here is a selection from my introduction of him:

Walt Whitman summoned, “Poets to Come, Justify Me!” and it is exciting to welcome Graham Everett to the ranks of the Long Island Poet of the Year honorees striving to take up the challenge Whitman gave: to justify the work Whitman began here as The Father of American Poetry through the work we continue. In that way, like Whitman, we must serve not only literature, but people: hoping to find words to express what, for many, is not easily expressed. Whitman taught the democracy, the distinctly American freedom, that can reach people through poetry. Graham Everett’s life’s work as a poet, publisher and professor has taught the same. Talented, brilliant and generous: His life’s work has been poetry as democracy: a gathering-in: of colleagues, students, and poets.

Graham’s voice can be quite Whitman-esque, as he writes of the places and people around him, and in the way nature is often blended into Everett’s painterly observances: see his poem “Playful Stars”. Graham’s poetry is all this: noonday sun and grey skies, snow and daffodils, the search for our missing pieces – as he writes with that witty wisdom, our better halves or thirds or quarters…

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Delius - Sea Drift, after Walt Whitman (1903-04)

Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman

Poets to Come

POETS to come! orators, singers, musicians to come!
Not to-day is to justify me, and answer what I am for;
But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental, greater than before known,
Arouse! Arouse—for you must justify me—you must answer.

I myself but write one or two indicative words for the future, 5
I but advance a moment, only to wheel and hurry back in the darkness.

I am a man who, sauntering along, without fully stopping, turns a casual look upon you, and then averts his face,
Leaving it to you to prove and define it,
Expecting the main things from you.

—Walt Whitman

Playful Stars

Snow comes falling, and we’re wanting daffodils

Noonday sun shines, we’re looking for grey skies

Let’s get together and put on some temporary tattoos
Let’s stand together under the night sky
and wait for meaning to arrive

Let’s go find our other halves or better thirds or quarters
and put what bit we played back together by say noon
two at the latest

Lithely does us— our hast comet-like!
We sing we come from playful stars

from playful stars we may come

We’re leaving spaces, leaping.

—Graham Everett