County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef and County Legislature Chairwoman Harriet Cornell announced the reappointment of Dan Masterson as Poet Laureate Thursday in the County Executive’s Media Room in the Allison-Parris County Office Building in New City, according to a news release.
Vanderhoef and Cornell also announced the posthumous appointments of revered Rockland County poets Marya Zaturenska and her husband Horace Gregory as honorary Poets Laureate.
“For decades, Poet Laureate Masterson’s love and passion for poetry has enabled him to encourage, teach, and mentor new generations of poets, authors and screenwriters,“ Vanderhoef said. “His prize-winning poems have appeared in major publications on two continents where they serve as an inspiration to many people.”
“Dan Masterson is inspiring a new generation of young visual and literary artists,” said Cornell. “It was he who recognized the importance of poets Zaturenska and Gregory, who resided in Rockland for many years. He is a wonderful Poet Laureate, who contributes so much to the cultural life of Rockland.”
Also recognized Thursday was Piera Licht, a Clarkstown North High School student who was invited by Masterson to attend the program as a way of showcasing the talent of today’s young poets.
Dan Masterson was named the county’s first Poet Laureate in 2009 and has been reappointed to an unlimited term. Masterson is currently completing his 49th year at RCC, and is the College’s first Poet-in-Residence. He is author of four published books, the latest, his New and Selected: All Things, Seen and Unseen.
His work has appeared in an eclectic array of journals including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The London Magazine. Elected to membership in PEN International in 1978, the 79-year-old poet and founding editor of the Enskyment Online Poetry Anthology, has been awarded two Pushcart Prizes, as well as the Bullis, Borestone, and Fels Poetry awards.
In 2006, Syracuse University assumed stewardship of “The Dan Masterson Papers” for its Special Collections Research Center. Masterson is continuing his ongoing project of working with student poets enrolled in county high schools.
Marya Zaturenska (1902-1982), the American lyric poet, was posthumously appointed Honorary Poet Laureate. Zaturenska was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1938 and thereafter garnered many additional honors including the Shelley and John Reed prizes from Poetry magazine.
She was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and came to the United States with her parents in 1909. She was naturalized in 1912. She helped her family by dropping out of school to work in a clothing factory and a bookstore during the day. She attended high school classes in the evenings.
An outstanding student, she won a scholarship to Valparaiso University; she later transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she received a degree in library science and met her future husband, poet Horace Gregory. Widely published and read, much of her poetry appeared in The New York Times Book Review and the aforementioned Poetry magazine. In 1922 she wed the poet Horace Gregory.
Horace Gregory (1898-1982), a prize-winning American poet, translator of classic poetry, literary critic, college professor, and spouse of Marya Zaturenska, was also awarded the posthumous appointment as Honorary Poet Laureate.
Gregory was awarded The Bollingen Prize for Poetry in 1965; he joined the likes of Robert Frost, Theodore Roethke, W. H. Auden, and Ezra Pound as recipients of the coveted honor that recognizes a poet’s lifetime achievements.
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1898, the young Gregory was schooled mainly at home. His mother led him into a lifetime of reading. He visited New York City in 1918, returned home to start writing poetry, earn a degree from The University of Wisconsin-Madison, marry the poet Marya Zaturenska, and head back to Manhattan with his bride.
He managed to make a living as a copywriter and reviewer, and in 1933 joined the faculty at Sarah Lawrence College where he taught modern poetry and classics until his retirement in 1960. Professor Gregory’s poetry reveals his facility for shaping elegiac monologues, especially through the focus of working people. His interest in spiritualism took root in his poetry as a result of meeting W. B. Yeats during a trip to Dublin, Ireland.
Zaturenska and Gregory resided in Palisades, New York for many years. Their 60-year marriage ended with their deaths from natural causes, months apart, in 1982. The Palisades Free Library has several of both authors’ books in the library’s Local Author Collection.