Happy Birthday Stephen Dunn

Last year, on a whim, after reading on The Writer’s Almanac that Stephen Dunn’s birthday was June 24th, I sent him some of my poems along with a note that gave him credit for igniting my interest in poetry.  The following poem was first on the stack.  He was very gracious and emailed me that he liked my poems…here’s a snippet…

“your work is full of pleasures. It’s limpid and full of achieved honesty, which, despite your first poem and note, I will take no credit for.”

That was pretty thrilling coming from my all-time favorite poet who happens to have won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2001 for Different Hours!



Happy Birthday Stephen Dunn

Here it is,

a book of poems—

the birthday present you didn’t ask for,

didn’t want.


It’s really a thank you gift in disguise,

a sort of offering

to a god who might have ears

who may just listen.


And you, now on the other side of the page,

in this reversal of roles

can choose to light the fire

as I have done so many times

to welcome the evening,

the perfect light to read your words.


Don’t hesitate—

if you find the light too dim,

offer these pages to the flames

so they might be useful,


their only purpose

is to burn.




DeMaris Gaunt


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