||About the Dead Poets Society of America
The Dead Poets Society of America* is a community of like-minded people who are enthusiastic about the life, works and gravesites of American poets. We enjoy the history, culture, & poetry associated with the lives and deaths of poets, their gravesites, and their poetry related to death.
Some of us are active documenting poets’ graves in local or regional efforts, and some of us are poets. Others just have a love for poetry and photography. One aim of the Dead Poets Society of America is to be a catalyst for networking, both online and at the local level. We want to develop a community of sharing: of insights, pictures, videos, and original research on death and the American poet.
There is great interest in the United States in cemeteries as well as great love for our departed poets. The Dead Poets Society of America brings together both of these strands and combines them into what we hope are ever-expanding collaborative efforts. We seek to weave a digital and corporeal tapestry to honor and learn about the lives, times, and deaths of our past poets.
The idea and early work for The Dead Poets Society of America de-jure**, began in 2008, and we were officially launced in the Spring of 2009. Since then those involved have been enriching our cultural & historical commons through poetry readings, photo-sharing, and blogging.
As of now (Spring 2010) there is no mechanism for "joining" the DPSA, as we are a social network and not yet a non-profit arts organization. Instead of becoming a larger, non-profit association, we would like to see partners emerge in public statewide efforts, who would take practical "ownership" of local activities.
Let's say, for starters, that anyone who submits photos or videos to our Online Public Collection of Poets' Graves, or who participates in our readings or sends us research, will be considered a member, de-jure. The Dead Poet Project will also be a way for people to participate in the DPSA's historical and archival efforts.
The Dead Poet Project
The DPSA is currently planning the Dead Poet Project, which will collect and post videos of people reading at the gravesites of poets. This multimedia effort is modeled after the very popular Favorite Poem Project, which was started by Robert Pinsky when he was the US Poet Laureate. If you have such videos already, or have links to their online location, please send us an e-mail at dpproject [at] deadpoes (dot) o r g
We are also in the planning stages of a photo and video competition. While the guidelines have not been finalyzed, here is the current thinking. The poem chosen should have something to do with elegy, cemeteries, death, or the afterlife. For both photos and video, entries will be judged on creativity, such as use of costume, music, or drama. Extra weight will be added for photos of graves on our maps that have not yet been recently documented by other DPSA participants. Until these projects are set in place, participants are encouraged to post such videos on their own blogs or online services, and we will post links to them.
De-facto or de-jure?** Before describing what something is, it is often helpful to describe just what it is not. The Dead Poets Society of America is not the same as the Dead Poets Society (and yes, part of the idea for our name came from the movie). In order to gain membership in the later illustrious and mysterious group, a poet must have physically died and been buried (or cremated, or lost at sea, etc.). Most poets are not in a rush to join that group so quickly.
Wherever there are poets in America who ponder cemeteries, death, and the afterlife, as well as lovers of poetry who read such poetry — there you have de facto members of the DPSA. It may be true that this large, de-facto group has not henceforth been given a name, or been organized in any fashion, but they have existed nonetheless, whether as individuals or in small groups.
Within the Dead Poets Society of America -- meaning that we are living in America, or studying American poets-- there are two membership groups: one small and on huge; one de facto and one de jure. The older de facto membership group forms a loose-knit but very large web of people with common associations, feelings, or fascinations that spans generations. The de-jure group was discussed above, and we hope you'll join!
A word about the word *America* : While this group focuses on the poets who have lived in the geographical area of what is now the United States of America, we are cognizant that the word America applies to all the Americas, from Canada down to Chile. It would be great if other people started similiar groups in other regions and/or nations. Russia, China, Brazil, Iran, Greece and England and France come to mind as likely candidates. This could then turn into the International Dead Poets Society, because the interests and loves that underly our efforts are certainly not unique to "Western" sensibilities. Poetry and Death are found in every tribe and culture throughout recorded history. But for now, this website and group is focused on the historical and contemporary poets of the USA.