Maine man leading tour of dead poets’ graves

Posted Oct. 07, 2011, at 12:49 p.m.
Last modified Oct. 07, 2011, at 3:12 p.m.

FREEPORT, Maine — The founder of the Dead Poets Society of America traveled to Massachusetts on Friday to visit graves and other sites associated with Jack Kerouac and five other famous poets in his effort to recognize fallen bards.

The “Dead Poets 2011 Magic Bus Tour” aimed to pay homage to John Whittier, Anne Bradstreet, Elizabeth Bishop, Stanley Kunitz, Louisa May Alcott and Kerouac, said Walter Skold, who has visited the graves of 225 American poets since founding the Dead Poets Society of America in 2008.

On Friday, Skold’s Poemobile visited poets’ graves, memorials and a childhood home before a planned conclusion in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Mass., with a special reading of Alcott’s works.

The selection of Friday for the event was no coincidence. Last year, Skold launched his effort to create an annual Dead Poets Remembrance Day on Oct. 7, the date of Edgar Allan Poe’s death in 1849.

Skold said he pushed for a national holiday to remember poets after he discovered that the graves of many of the nation’s literary forebears have been neglected.

He has said that the society’s name was partly inspired by the 1990 Oscar-winning movie “Dead Poets Society” starring Robin Williams as an inspirational and unconventional English teacher at a boarding school.

Skold, a Freeport resident, is keeping busy since leaving his job as a public school technology teacher to pursue his passions of poetry and photography. These days, he’s often known simply as the “dead poet guy” after covering 30,000 miles while visiting poets’ graves.

Besides working on a book of pictures of his tombstone art, Skold is producing a film called “Finding Frost: Poets and Their Graves.”

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