There was an aura of self-congratulation about the [first-ever convention of state poets laureate], with many of the poets extolling what they said was poetry's newfound power. Many said the best thing that ever happened to them was the postponement by the first lady, Laura Bush, of a White House poetry conference this year after she learned that the invited poets were sending antiwar poems to one of the scheduled participants, Sam Hamill, who was organizing a protest. "Ever since Laura Bush, my readings have been crowded," said Grace Paley, poet laureate of Vermont and, at 80, a rabble-rouser. "Even if they're not about the war, they've been crowded."
Like the poets before him, [Dana] Gioia spoke of poetry's resurgence. "This enormous reawakening is now an undeniable fact of contemporary American cultural life," he said. In Northern California, where he is from, he said, "you cannot swing a cat without encountering a poet laureate."
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