Belles letters 

Another sign of poetry’s growing popularity — along with the spread of coffeehouse readings, poetry festivals and slams, little magazines and poetry Web sites — is an upcoming effort by the Academy of American Poets: a campaign to propose new U.S. postage stamps featuring American poets. Though stamps of such national bards as Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Robert Frost have appeared in the past, it’s been awhile since any of the lyrical voices from this continent have been so honored. Think of it: stamps of William Carlos Williams, Gertrude Stein, Langston Hughes, Frank O’Hara, Charles Olson, Sterling Brown, Louis Zukofsky, etc. But these are my favorites. Anyone can visit the Academy’s Web site,, and “nominate as many poets as he or she wishes, but can nominate a given poet only once,” according to the project guidelines. Some other things to keep in mind: The nominating process begins March 1 and runs throughout March and April (which is also National Poetry Month); to be nominated, a poet must be an American citizen and deceased for at least 10 years; and the leading 10 nominees will appear online in a bar graph, with tallies updated daily, and write-in candidates can be added to the list. When the voting is over, the Academy will present the results to the U.S. Postal Service and the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee. Personally, I’m rooting for Jack Spicer, Bob Kaufman and Ted Berrigan.

The Hot & the Bothered is edited by MT arts editor George Tysh. E-mail him at

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