Iowa has a new Poet Laureate, 75-year-old Robert Dana was born in Boston, served in the South Pacific in the Navy in World War Two, returned home and wanted a change of scenery. He bought a one-way bus ticket to attend Drake University in Des Moines. It was there he got hooked on poetry and has lived in Iowa ever since, retiring to Coralville after teaching for 40 years at Cornell College in Mount Vernon. Dana says poetry isn’t well taught well in schools because most English teachers don’t understand it, “so they either don’t teach it at all or they teach it rather badly.” He says he’d like to help teachers to better understand poetry and help them to get their students to see poetry has “real relevance to their lives.” He says students can learn a lot about the contemporary world by studying the classic poetry of Frost, Shakespeare, Homer or Chaucer. In his two-year term as Iowa’s Poet Laureate, Dana will deliver poems at official events at the invitation of the governor and he’ll develop a signature project to advance the public’s appreciation for poetry. He has published thirteen books of poetry, beginning in 1957 and ending most recently in 2004 with his latest book “The Morning of The Red Admirals.” By the way, red admirals aren’t Russian naval leaders — they’re butterflies.
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