George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron ByronIn 1985, a British Romantic Period Literature class changed my life. The poetry of Byron, Shelley, and Keats wakened in me a passion for writing. I determined to somehow make a career of it—and somehow feed my children.

From then forward, I worked exclusively in publishing, first for game companies, then in education, while continuing to write, study, and promote poetry. It’s my opinion that poetry used to belong to the people, until academics stole it. It’s high time to steal it back from them.

Ted and Breakfast

Lester : April 18, 2010 8:52 pm : Announcements, Miscellany, Poetry

Yesterday morning I had the opportunity to meet Ted Kooser at his reading in Appleton. Here, for posterity, is how the interchange proceeded.

I was speaking with Ellen Kort, Wisconsin’s first Poet Laureate, when Mr. Kooser returned from the Men’s room. Ellen asked me, “Have you met Ted Kooser?”

I replied “No,” smiling, and offered my hand.

He took it, blank-faced, and asked, “And you are?”

I responded, still smiling, “Lester Smith.” A pause. “Current president of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets.”

He replied, “Oh,” then, “Ellen, shall we get this thing underway?”

Fortunately, 25+ years in publishing, with a penchant for backwater projects like hobby games and poetry, have left me with an ego that is neither too large nor too small. I returned to my table, chuckling, and thoroughly enjoyed his reading. (He read an unpublished “journal” of a Blackhawk War foot soldier, followed by “Dishwater” and “The beaded purse” by audience request.)
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For My Birthday

Lester : May 19, 2009 6:27 am : Announcements, Poetry

For my birthday, God gave me a cake.

He frosted it with filigrees of color from
countless vermilion sunsets
shining on sapphire
seas and ochroid sands.

Inside, a feast of worms.

He set it on a plate decorated
with images of doves and
dying children.

“Make a wish,” He said,
with a smile
of expectation.

I could not meet his eye.

“Really,” I said, “You shouldn’t have.”
—Lester Smith
(Originally appeared in Woud You Dance?)

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Lester : May 18, 2009 6:16 am : Announcements, Poetry

If the sun were a bowling ball,
I have read,
the earth would be a peppercorn
somewhere down the hill
across the street.

If the earth were a bowling ball,
someone said,
its face were smoother still,
ocean deeps and mountain heights
signifying nothing.

How then should I cross that ocean,
climb that mountain,
and tell the sun
my fascination with your face?

Better just to take you bowling
and smile to see
as the pins fall.

—Lester Smith

(Originally appeared in Woud You Dance?)

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