Charles Margolis reappointed as town poet laureate
By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Wed., Mar. 13, 2013
South Windsor is one of the few towns in the area that has a poet laureate, and on Monday, March 4, the Town Council approved the mayoral reappointment of the incumbent poet laureate, Charles Margolis.
Speaking in Margolis’s favor, Councilor Cary Prague explained that he discovered he is a distant cousin of Margolis, even though he did not even know Margolis when he was first appointed poet laureate by then-mayor John Pelkey. “He's done an outstanding job with the first South Windsor Voices,” said Prague.
As poet laureate, Margolis initiated South Windsor Voices, a book of poems written by members of the South Windsor community. After a year of accepting works, the compilation was published. The launch party for the book, held in March 2011, was a hit, attracting 175 people, even though the University of Connecticut women's basketball team was playing at the same time.
“Now he's out with another project, Voices II, which is an anthology of poems and short stories about school experiences,” said Prague. “I think he's done a very good job being poet laureate, he's added something to the community, and we should all be proud of him.”
Margolis himself welcomes the honor.
“I am honored and appreciative that the council has chosen to appoint me poet laureate, and I’m also pleased that the town recognizes the importance of the arts,” he said. South Windsor is one of the few towns with a poet laureate – West Hartford is another close example, and East Hartford has reached out to Margolis for more information about the concept. “Wherever we can show that the town is dedicated to the arts, it’s a good thing,” he said.
Margolis’s poetic career traces its roots to his days as a high school teacher. When he was teaching, he befriended a school resource officer named Ciara McDermott. In addition to being a police woman, Margolis said, McDermott was a superb poet who had traveled with Billy Collins, a past poet laureate of the United States. She was tragically murdered by her ex-boyfriend on Nov. 21, 2005.
During their friendship, McDermott became Margolis’s poet mentor. “Ciara would listen to my poems. She would put her face in my hands and just listen,” said Margolis.
After retiring, Margolis reflected on his teaching career and wrote a book of poems entitled, “Class Dismissed: A Teacher Says Goodbye.” The work was ultimately published by the Connecticut Education Association.
The book was read by Pelkey, who shortly after his 2009 election (four days after, in fact) called Margolis and asked him if he would be the town poet laureate. “I said, ‘Fine, do I get a car?’” Margolis joked.
Four days after his appointment, Margolis proposed the idea of South Windsor Voices. A poetry book written by residents and former residents of South Windsor, it is innovative in the sense that it is art authored by a community.
Margolis regularly writes poetry, which has turned up in unexpected places. He recalls one story, the day after Christmas, when he determined it was time to make the seasonal switch from Christmas music back to NPR. He turned on the radio only to hear Faith Middleton read one of Margolis’s poems, “The Ultimate Delicacy,” on her show, “The Food Schmooze.”
Margolis and the South Windsor Voices II committee are still accepting submission for their next anthology of work. Voices II is open to residents and former residents of South Windsor who have a poem or short story (no less than 250 words and no longer than 4,000) about a school memory. Submission will be accepted through June 14. For complete submission guidelines and rules, visit www.southwindsor.org/pages/swindsorct_webdocs/voicesII.