New Hampshire poet laureate resigns after moving to Vermont

by Zach Swiss | 11/1/05 6:00am

Cynthia Huntington did not resign last week amid threats of indictment or political scandal. Rather, the New Hampshire poet laureate just changed her address.

Huntington, a Dartmouth English professor and former Hanover resident, said she believed that by moving to the town of Thetford, Vt., she was required to step down from her New Hampshire post.

Huntington disagrees with articles from local papers, including the Concord Monitor, which wrote that there is no requirement that the poet laureate reside in New Hampshire.

"I was informed otherwise," Huntington said. "I do believe that the New Hampshire poet laureate is supposed to live in New Hampshire. I believe that the other news article was inaccurate."

Huntington's move to her new 10-acre property means she will join fellow state poet laureate, Vermont's Grace Paley, as a Thetford resident.

New Hampshire's poet laureate is an honorary post that carries with it no specified duties or salary. Huntington has held the position since January 2005 when she replaced Marie Harris, who served for five years.

In her first month at the laureate post, Huntington recited a poem at New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch's inauguration ceremony. In the course of her tenure, which has lasted less than a year, she has also made appearances at local schools and libraries to read poetry.

The process of selecting a poet laureate begins with the Poetry Society of New Hampshire, which submits a list of its nominees for the position. The list then moves on to the governor, who with the advice and consent of the executive council appoints the new laureate. The Poetry Society considered the advice of past poet laureates, representatives from another writers' organization and members of the state arts council before nominating Huntington to the position.

There is no word yet on who will replace Huntington.

"That's out of my hands," Huntington said. "What they don't know is if they will appoint someone brand new for five years or someone to fill out my term," she added, referring to the governor and the poetry society.

Huntington has taught in Dartmouth's English department for 15 years and has published several books, the most recent of which, "The Radiant," was released in 2003.

Since New Hampshire named its first poet laureate in 1967, many writers have held the post. Among those, Donald Hall, whose tenure lasted from 1984 to 1989, was one of Huntington's teachers at the University of Michigan. Dartmouth has a long tradition of producing influential poets. Dartmouth alumni Robert Frost and Richard Eberhart have both been United States poet laureates.

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