Dodge Poet Spotlight: Edwin Romond

Welcome to our new blog series here on Poetry Fridays, Dodge Poet Spotlight. We will be turning the focus over to the individuals who make our programming what it is in the schools, with teachers in Spring & Fountain, and on the ground at the Dodge Poetry Festival — the Dodge Poets.

Each week, a Dodge Poet will answer some questions about themselves and provide a selected poem of their own work. We hope that this will be a way for you to get to know the Dodge Poets a little better, and you can get an idea of why we love working with them so much.

The first poets we will be featuring are all leaders of Spring & Fountain sessions. If you have registered for a s session, you may see you leader featured.

Without further ado, our first Dodge Poet is Edwin Romond.


Photo Credit: Lauren Rutten

What are you reading?
I am reading The Art of Loss, a poetry collection by Myrna Stone, and I am also re-reading Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar to help my son who is studying the play in his 10th grade English class.

When did you first discover poetry?  What poets made you want to write poetry?
I had three “poetry awakenings” in my life. Although I had always respected the art form I really came to love it when I was student teaching in Wisconsin in 1971. Having to give more intense attention to literature that I would be teaching in front of a class brought me to a much deeper place. I was amazed at how much I loved teaching the poems in the text book and remember with special fondness Elizabeth Bishop’s “Filling Station” and how my 9th grade students responded to it.  What turned that love of poetry into a passion, however, was the night in March, 1977 when I heard Robert Bly read in Demarest Hall lounge at Rutgers University. I had never heard anyone present poems with the fire that Bly had that night and I drove home from New Brunswick a very different person. Even though Bly opened my eyes to poetry in a new and exciting manner, I didn’t become interested in writing my own poems until seven years later when I was a member of Stephen Dunn’s poetry workshop at the Artist-Teacher Institute at Stockton College. Those ten days changed my life again for Stephen helped me learn about making poems in a way that I could not only understand but also embrace. Whatever I am as a poet I owe to Stephen Dunn.

Richard Hugo said we’ve written every poem we ever loved.  He was particularly proud of having written Yeats’ “Easter, 1916.”  What great poem are you proud of having written?
Joseph Pintauro is better known for his novels and plays but I love his poem “Lizzie and Blondie” from his book, Kites at Empty Airports. I have lived with this poem 42 years and each time I read it privately or share it in a workshop I continue to be deeply affected by the brilliance of the poem’s construction and the restraint with which he handles the delicate subject matter (the death of his mother.) I have grown old with “Lizzie and Blondie” and my life experiences have only increased my appreciation of both the poem and the artistry of the writer.

Tell us about your favorite experience reading for an audience.
In 1989 I did a reading in Dublin at the James Joyce Room which is directly across from St. Stephen’s Green. I had been thrilled to be in Ireland for the summer but this joy was tempered by the thought that both of my parents died before they could return to the country of their ancestors. When I was growing up they spoke often about their wish to travel to Ireland and see where their families came from. That night in Dublin I read “My Parents’ Honeymoon,” a selection I had read in public many times before and I shocked myself by breaking down in the middle of it. I think it all caught up to me that I had been able to do what my parents had only dreamed of doing so when I read about their honeymoon, the beginning of their married life, I was overcome with emotion. That had never happened to me at a reading nor has it happened since. Reading about my mother and father to an Irish audience stirred such deep feelings in me that I could not help but have a physical response as well. It hit me that even though my parents could never be there in person, that night in Ireland, through my poetry, I could finally bring them home.

Painting

One Saturday
when I was ten my father,
a truck driver, taught me
how to paint using our porch
steps as his classroom.
I can still feel his huge hand
around mine guiding the brush
brilliant with green paint
across the wooden step
and the thrill of watching
the pigment sink in, turning
scuffed to glossy. My father
told me, “Always bring the
brush back into where you
have just painted, before
you go on to the new spot,”
and he would move my hand
to the left then slide the brush
onto the next patch of worn wood.
We painted two steps together
then he let go of my hand and
honored me by letting me paint
the bottom step on my own.
I still hear his voice urging
me to bring the brush back
to blend the paint into one
continuous stroke of green.
I don’t know why after 50 years
these words remain
like lyrics of a favorite song
but I keep seeing that Saturday,
and feel the paint on my fingers
and hear my father’s soft
instruction as I now bend to
my young son and guide his hand
holding a paint brush across
his skate board ramp. I repeat
the exact words of my father
and hear him speaking with me
then feel his hand upon my hand
holding his grandson’s hand
as together we guide Liam’s brush
across the ramp, reaching back
to go forward, our brush marks red
as a bloodline, seamless, beautiful.

Edwin Romond
(“Painting” previously appeared in Verse Wisconsin)
Photo Credit: Lauren Rutten

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10 Responses to Dodge Poet Spotlight: Edwin Romond

  1. Ana Tasso says:

    Full of feelings, while I was reading the poem so many things come into my thoughts, my family, my father, that is so precious poem.

  2. John Cosgrove says:

    Ed Romond was my “poetry awakening”. I had just come on board as the Physics teacher at Warren Hills HS where Ed was an English teacher. He was giving a reading in the school library one evening. I attended just out of curiosity. The words pulled me in as Ed took me on a roller coaster ride of images and emotions. Subsequent conversations with Ed nurtured the seed and I found myself attending the Dodge Poetry Festival; probably the only Physics teacher there on teacher day. I made some crude attempts at writing poetry which I shared with Ed. His encouragement keeps me writing.

    Ed writes in his poem Science and English: “…Physicists/ and poets are brothers in a world/ of questions and, like a good game/ of baseball, it’s not the ninth inning/ that is the pleasure but the pitches/ and swings that get you there./

  3. Kevin Horn says:

    Edwin is a must-see poet. I am honored to call him a friend and colleague; his poems about teaching have often helped me to keep my sanity when I have felt like it was lost forever at the end of some school days. My wife, my children, and I are always excited to hear him read his wonderfully humorous and touching poems. Thanks, Ed, for helping to keep the flame of poetry lit for so many people.

  4. Pat Brisson says:

    I have loved Ed Romond’s poems for years. They honor everyday people and occurrences and are so finely crafted as to appear effortless. What seems like a simple story as the poem begins, grows in richness and depth that is breathtaking by the end. Thank you for including him on your Poetry Fridays blog.

  5. Valeri Drach Weidmann says:

    Ed Romondhas read twice at the Friends of the Highland Park Public Library Poetry Night Series and each ocassionally was filled with his heart felt elegent poems. Recently when he read, he introduced his new chapbook, Asbury Park, which also included wonderful poems about his parents and son. Much like the poem included here, it effortlessly sanctifies family relationships, joining the generations. What is ironic is that today I got to experience the poet Stephen Dunn, Ed’s inspiration, at the Princeton Poetry Festival Paul Muldoon coordinates. Ed is an inspiration much like Stephen Dunn, a man who finds the spirit in words.

  6. Stopped by for a cursory glance, but was taken immediately interested to know more about this poet, who is new to me. I could feel the surge of feeling well up in response to his own while reading in Ireland, even before I came to the poem. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Bruce Tredinnick says:

    Ah, yes, a tender poem of love and legacy. Thank you Edwin.
    I am 69 and my first grandson is two. So many times my deceased mother appears when we he and I are together. She taught me to be silly at times, have fun, and not take myself too seriously. When I put his coat on she says through me “San Fransisco, watch my fist go” as I pull each sleave over his arm and out pops his fist to tap me om the nose. Truly a “love tap”, yes.

  8. Of course, start with Ed Romond, the poet who has changed so many student, teacher, friend, compatriot’s lives. Who better to pick than a man who lives the poetry he loves and makes all lucky enough to be in his aura love and live it, too. I have never heard nor read an unkind, unpoetic word or feeling from this unique human. Thank you both.

  9. […] Robert Bly, Galway Kinnell, William Carlos Williams, W.B. Yeats, and my 10th grade English teacher, Edwin Romond—a fine poet […]

  10. Sander Zulauf says:

    Ed Romond loves life. It is a love that radiates from all of his poems into the lives of his readers. He is the 2013 New Jersey Poets Prize recipient. He will read his work and receive the prize on May 6 at the County College of Morris at 7 PM in the Student Center. Admission is free and all of his myriad fans are welcome to come and celebrate this gifted Dodge Poet.

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