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The Dartmouth
June 17, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Dartmouth honors Robert Frost’s 150th birthday

The College held dramatic readings of the poet’s work, while local middle schoolers recited his poetry.

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Dartmouth hosted a series of events to honor famed poet Robert Frost’s 150th birthday, according to English and comparative literature professor Donald Pease. The poet matriculated with the Class of 1896 but left Dartmouth during his first term, according to the Dartmouth Libraries website.

The two-day event series included a Frost poetry reading by actor Gordon Clapp in Baker-Berry Library, recitals by local middle school students in Sanborn Library and a lecture by Rutgers University English department chair Tyler Hoffman ’88 on the politics of Frost’s work. The series took place on March 25 and 26, the latter being Frost’s birthday.

“He won over his lifetime over 40 honorary degrees,” Pease said. “Dartmouth gave him two of those … He’s a Dartmouth fixture.”

More than 120 people attended Clapp’s dramatic reading of “Birches,” “Two Roads,” “Free Verse About Silas” and “Mending Wall” on March 25, according to Pease. Pease said Clapp performed because he is working on a project to “construct a dramatic version of the last years of Robert Frost’s life.” 

English department administrative assistant Carlene Kucharczyk, who watched Clapp’s performance, said it was “wonderful.”

“[Clapp] was just like I imagined Robert Frost,” Kucharczyk said. “You really felt like it was Frost talking to you … It was really lively. I can see why he’s such a renowned actor — he completely inhabited the role.”

According to Pease, the Theta Delta Chi fraternity sponsored Clapp’s event because Frost was a member of the organization during his time at Dartmouth. 

Local seventh grade students from Crossroads Academy performed Frost’s poetry in Sanborn Library on March 25. The event was titled “You Come Too,” named after the collection that Frost put together for children, according to Crossroads Academy teacher Steve Glazer. 

Glazer said he taught a unit on Frost, during which students went to Rauner Library to look at primary sources of Frost’s work. He said the students memorized Frost’s poems and wrote an essay to prepare for the reading.

Glazer added that he wanted his students to study Frost because they have grown up in the place that inspired him. 

“I think, in general, poetry can be seen as inaccessible,” Glazer said. “But Frost is a great American poet who inhabited [the students’ world]. It’s easier to understand when you’re walking through the landscape that inspired him — when his places are your places too.”  

Kucharczyk said she was “very impressed” by the students’ individual and group presentations, some of which were in Spanish and French.

“The students were wonderful,” she said. 

Hoffman gave a talk titled “Robert Frost’s America” on the politics of Frost’s poetry. Hoffman wrote his senior thesis on Frost and is currently working on a book about the poet, Pease said. 

According to Pease, Frost maintained deep connections with Dartmouth after he graduated. He came back to give lectures as part of the Great Issues program, according to the Dartmouth Libraries website. 

Pease added that Dartmouth’s campus remains full of infrastructure that alludes to Frost’s work. The Class of 1961 built a statue of Frost behind Bartlett Tower and commissioned the wall that Frost envisioned in “Mending Wall” last year, Pease said. 

“This man is a Dartmouth legacy,” Pease said. “He’s a Dartmouth treasure. For this event to have been so successful was quite gratifying.”