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Talking to Nassau poet laureate Linda Opyr

Everybody knows there's a U.S. poet laureate, but you may not know that Nassau County also bestows this distinction on a poet every two years.

Don't expect her to wear a laurel wreath, but on Sunday, Linda Opyr, 58, will be named the third Nassau County poet laureate at an induction ceremony in Farmingdale. Opyr, an assistant superintendent in the Sewanhaka Central High School District and adjunct English instructor at Nassau Community College, was selected by the five board members of the NCPL Society.

We spoke with the author of six poetry collections -- most recently, "If We Are What We Remember: New and Selected Poems" (Whittier Publications, $22) -- on her patio in New Hyde Park.


How did you feel when you found out you were nominated for this post?

I felt tremendous. You know, I do what I do for the love of poetry and for the impact that I know it can have on people's lives. For me to learn that someone felt I would be a good ambassador of poetry just made me feel as if I have had a certain degree of success in what I've chosen to do.


What exactly do you do as poet laureate?

You might be invited to give readings at special events. You might be asked to come to schools and give workshops on how to write. Each poet laureate usually has certain projects that they want to embark on. I'm interested in working with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in Nassau County to read for the children that are there and to talk with them about writing.


So, what style of poetry do you write?

I predominantly write free verse. I love to write about nature. I often write poems that deal with family experiences or experiences of people that I encounter. For me, poems aren't born in an attic with textbooks. Poems are born in the world and the county that I live in.


Has living and working on Long Island had an impact on your work?

Long Island is in each poem that I write. This is the only house I've ever lived in. I have worked for 35 years in the high school district that I attended as a teenager. When I write a poem and I speak about a fox, I've seen a fox on Long Island.


Do you have any writing rituals or quirks?

I don't sit with a blank page in front of me until I have something in my head that I have to say. I often start poems as I'm walking, and I love to walk. I'll find sometimes that the whole poem starts coming and the trick is to keep saying it to myself and walk faster until I can get home and write it down.


WHAT Nassau County Poet Laureate induction ceremony of Linda Opyr

WHEN | WHERE 2 p.m. Sunday at Allen Ellsworth Park, 45 Motor Ave., Farmingdale

INFO Free, 516-694- 5126, nassaucountypoetlaureatesociety.com

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