Poet’s Dream Realized from Afar

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First Place Winner of the Robert Frost Poetry Contest, Dorothy K. Fletcher, enjoys her prize from a distance.

“If only I could have made the trip to receive my award, it would have been perfect,” poet Dorothy K. Fletcher said with a hint of sadness in her voice. She had to be 500 miles distant when her First Place poem “To Jill” was read at the Awards Ceremony of the Robert Frost Poetry Festival in Key West on Sunday, April 23, 2006.

“I have always loved Frost’s work; my favorite being ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.’ No, maybe it’s ‘The Mending Wall,’ or ‘Two Roads Diverge in a Yellow Wood.’ I can’t actually pin down my favorite, but I can say I am so honored to have won a contest that bears Robert Frost’s name.”

Dorothy K. Fletcher has been a long-time educator in Florida, serving 34 years in the Jacksonville Public School System. Her poetry has been published in over 80 literary magazines and anthologies. Last June, Ocean Publishing released a collection of Dorothy’s poems and essays entitled Zen Fishing and Other Southern Pleasures.

“One of the great aspects of my job as English teacher is that I get to read and reread all the works of The Greats—Shakespeare, Milton, Twain, Frost—and it can only positively impact my own work. The poem for which I won this award is about William Faulkner’s daughter. Being in a position to read good works all the time is a wonderful position in which to work and to live, and it gives a writer many interesting perspectives to consider.”

Dorothy said that she had too many obligations and responsibilities to make time for a trip to the Keys to collect her award and participate in the Robert Frost Poetry Festival. “It’s almost the end of the school year and I have so much to do. Still, at my earliest convenience, I will hurry down to Key West and sink my teeth into conch fritters and cool my palate with a mojito.”

She goes on to say, “Key West is like a literary Mecca for us English teachers. Along with the Heritage House Museum—the house owned by Jesse Porter and the place that Frost began to visit in the 30s and into the 60’s—there is Hemingway’s House and Tennessee Williams’ house. Audubon had a house there and so did Elizabeth Bishop. Why, even Shel Silverstein had a house and studio there!”

Dorothy said, “When I am down there, I just love to get on my rented bike and pedal all over the place searching out the haunts of my favorite poets and writers. I always feel renewed and inspired when I return from Key West.”

Fletcher had this piece of advice for the young writers just learning their craft. “Read! Read all the books and poems that you can. Reading helps reinforce patterns and cadences, and by listening to the voices of others, slowly, but surely young writers will find their own voices. And maybe someday one of these young writers will be going to Key West to accept an award for poetry as well.”

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