Press-Republican

Out & About

October 11, 2012

Four decades of poetic excellence

PLATTSBURGH — Charles Fort reads new and collected works at Black Poetry Day Wednesday evening at SUNY Plattsburgh.

His works in progress are a novel, “The Last Black Hippie in Connecticut,” and a book of poems comprised of 100 villanelles.

He is equally adept at formal poetry as well as free verse.

“The writing started as far back as second grade, reading everything I could in the public library,” said Fort, who is back in Connecticut caring for his mother.

A jock-poet, he studied English as an undergrad at Siena Heights College in Adrian, Mich.

A McDowell Fellow, he attended Cranbrook Writer’s Conference thrice in Michigan and Bread Loaf twice in Vermont.

“I just knew where to go and how to get there, literally, in my hippie-hitchhiking days,” he said.

During one of his Bread Loaf stints up on the mountain, Robert Hayden, poet/essayist/educator, was a guest reader.

“They mocked him and started making fun of him because he was black and nearly blind,” Fort said. “He never called himself a black poet even though he wrote powerful work about lynchings, Frederick Douglass and other — quote, unquote — political poems. I wrote a poem for Robert Hayden in honor of him.”

Fort holds an old-school Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Bowling Green University in Ohio.

Then, it was rare for an African-American to participate in creative-writing programs, but he points out that in those typewriting days, there were very few such programs, and one could count them on his hands and toes and those of Carolyn Forche.

His teachers, mentors and guest poets to the various colleges he has taught at are a Who’s Who of American letters: Isaac Asimov, James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Mark Strand, Donald Hall and Maxine Kumin.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Steve Ouellette's Movie Reviews
Entertainment
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Entertainment Videos
Adam Levine Launches Clothing Line for Women Paul Wesley Sinks His Teeth Into Directing Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Josh Thompson Streams Album to Hook New Fans Franco Leads Star-studded Broadway Cast ShowBiz Minute: Singer, Young, Poehler Sparks Fly With Derulo and Jordin on New Album Nas Movie Opens Tribeca Film Festival Zooey Deschanel Adds Designing to Her Repertoire Miley Cyrus Still in Hospital, Cancels 2nd Show 'Half of a Yellow Sun' Hits the Big Screen Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Swift's Bus Drives Into Country Hall of Fame ShowBiz Minute: Cyrus, Walker, Combs Pedro Pascal Plays 'Game of Thrones'' Red Viper Deeley Shows Acting Chops in Hulu's 'Deadbeat' Ora Strips Efron at MTV Awards ShowBiz Minute: MTV Awards, Lopez, Royals Stars Hit Red Carpet for MTV Movie Awards Conan Backs Colbert, Hosts MTV Movie Awards
CVPH Job Opportunities