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This article by Nicole Plett was prepared for the March 26, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

U.S. 1 Poets — At Age 30

The U.S. 1 Poets’ Cooperative is 30 years old and it

is celebrating with the publication of a new edition of the U.S. 1

Worksheets. Member poets will read from their work at the Princeton

Public Library on Friday, March 28, at 7:30 p.m. Readers will include

Elizabeth Mimi Danson, Jean Hollander, Betty Bonham Lies, John McDermott,

Elizabeth Anne Socolow, and Winifred Hughes, who also introduces the

poets.

In honor of the anniversary, the editors have gathered a new volume

of poems and short prose by the group’s original and early members,

former members, current members, and new voices from around the country.

With the recent disbanding of the Berkeley Poets’ Cooperative, U.S.

1 believes it holds the record for the longest running group of its

kind in the country.

Founded by still-active members Alicia Ostriker and Rod Tulloss, the

U.S. 1 Poets (no relation to this newspaper) began meeting in June,

1973, and have met in members’ homes virtually every Tuesday evening

since. In addition to the founders, long-time members include Jean

Hollander, Cleopatra Mathis, Lynn Powell, David Keller, Elizabeth

Anne Socolow, and Lois Marie Harrod.

The group’s occasional publication, "U.S. 1 Worksheets," made

its debut in October, 1973, as a humble, inky publication comprising

a single folio sheet, folded twice, to an 8-1/2 x 11 inch package.

It has endured in various formats, published at irregular intervals,

to the present. In 1999, as it celebrated its 25-year milestone, U.S.

1 Worksheets Volume 38/39 made its appearance in a new, upscale format,

a perfect-bound book, of standard literary magazine size, with an

attractive color cover. Winifred Hughes, a co-op member since 1993,

became managing editor of U.S. 1 Worksheets in 1999.

Although the majority of the Worksheets contributors are co-op members,

the group’s listing in "Poet’s Market," the national directory

of poetry journals, has attracted submissions from across the country.

The new edition is no exception; it features work by members, newcomers,

and established poets. Selections are made a team of editors that

rotates among members.

"The title `Worksheets’ was meant to suggest process, and that’s

one of the things you can still see," says Hughes. The weekly

Tuesday night meetings, held in members’ homes, are so frequent that

few members attend every one. The result is a spontaneous, diverse

mix of attendees, she explains.

"We don’t try to make one poet look like another. We don’t have

one style, but there’s a tremendous seriousness about it. We always

try to be supportive, but at the same time to push each poet to the

highest standard that he or she can aspire to," says Hughes.

The new edition of the U.S. 1 Worksheets, Volume 46/47, also features

reminiscences by founders Rod Tulloss (who was also a founding member

of the Berkeley Coop) and Alicia Ostriker, the only writer whose work

has appeared in every issue.

Ostriker writes that 30 years ago, just before she went off to spend

a semester at U.C. Berkeley, Rod Tulloss told her about the Berkeley

Poets’ Co-op, which she joined for half a year. On her return, she

yearned to reproduce the experience in Princeton.

"It seemed like an unlikely prospect for Princeton, that white-bread

community, that bubble of privilege, that ultimately square setting

in which, after living there for eight years, I still felt like a

round peg," she writes in the new Worksheets.

"Whenever I meet lonely young poets — and all young poets

are lonely — I tell them to do what we did. Start a group. Meet

every week. Let yourselves be open to strangers. And you’ll grow,

and your work will grow."

— Nicole Plett

U.S. 1 Poets’ Cooperative, Princeton Public Library,

Princeton Shopping Center, North Harrison Street, 609-924-9529. The

U.S. 1 Poets’ Cooperative celebrates a new edition of the U.S. 1 Worksheets.

Free. Friday, March 28, 7:30 p.m.


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