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April is National Poetry Month

Written by Kathryn Spira


Although I’m not a poet and I know it, Herman is and has the credentials to prove it.

So Herman, aka Richard H. Nilsen, put out a collection of his poetry last year titled “Trying to Help People: Fifty Years in the Wilderness—Poems 1965-2015,” and it’s on sale at a discount at Mysteries on Main Street in Johnstown for the month of April in honor of National Poetry Month.

With cuts to the arts as well as PBS supposedly in the prospective new federal budget, I think it’s more important than ever that we support the arts in any way we can. Besides the discount to his poetry collection, any of his other books bought along with the poetry collection will also be discounted—just ask at the store when you go there.

Herman (I can’t help calling him that) actually got a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Arkansas where he studied under Miller Williams (the inaugural poet for Clinton’s second inauguration, Maya Angelou having had the honor for Clinton’s first inaugural). He tells me he used to have writer’s workshop in the William’s home weekly where they would regularly have National Book Award authors like “Deliverance” author James Dickey sit in and comment on the students’ works.

In fact, we first met through his Writers’ Block writing workshop as well as at Writers’ Circle in Saratoga Springs when I first started writing this column, and that was 22 years ago!

Poems in his collection include his previous published poetry which ranged from the West Coast’s “Poetry Now—California” to Cornell University’s “Epoch” magazine where his bio can be seen next to that of noted writer Joyce Carol Oates in Epoch’s 25th Anniversary issue. He actually won prizes for his writing including the Houghton College “Lantern” Poetry Prize and a Triton College, Salute to the Arts poetry prize.

I say all this just to point out his poetry isn’t just doggerel of the “roses are red” variety. I hope you’ll check it out.

I include a graphic of his collection with cover photo and layout design by former Sunday Leader-Herald Editor Shawn M. Tomlinson, many of whose books can also be found at Mysteries on Main Street.


About Kathryn Spira

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland, OH who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County, New York. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site