One of my English professors told us that when insurance company executive Wallace Stevens won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1955, one of his colleagues remarked: “Wally writes poetry?”
If you’ve known Pennsylvania newspaper editor Jude Dippold, you might be as surprised to learn that he, too, is a poet. He’s just published a collection called Crossings, which is available from Finishing Line Press and Amazon.
Despite his long newspaper career in Warren, Pennsylania, Dippold has a degree in philosophy, which one can detect in this collection. One can also sense a bit of newsroom cynicism, and I also picked up on what I thought were autobiographical markers by someone who’s just about my age.
For example, there’s the poem titled “Family Funeral” about cousins burying their elders and now they sit around and “warily size up each other, each unwilling to relinquish the fellowship of death.” At 71, having seen all the aunts and uncles buried (and one sister), I can relate to that.
At least 10 of the 26 poems have something to do with death and dying. One of the longer ones is titled “The Obituary,” and recounts the life of Orrie Pudder, once of Hacker Valley, West Virginia. Pudder died in 2013 and his online obituary includes these sentences: “Spending time at his barber shop in Sugar Grove (Pennsylvania) was a social experience for all that came to him. He will be missed by all that knew him.”
Dippold ends his poem this way:
“But there was no way
any newspaper could explain
so often filled his barbershop
with men who had no need for haircuts.”
One might compare the poem to Frost’s “Death of the Hired Man.”
Despite having an undergraduate degree in English, I never read a lot of poetry beyond most of Emily Dickinson’s work. I’m glad to add Jude Dippold to that list and urge you to check out his collection.
I am a freelance writer and photographer and retired journalism professor. In my first newspaper job more than 50 years ago I wrote a sports column titled The Spectator (Caslon typeface). I thought I'd resurrect the title, which was and is in honor of Addison and Steele.
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