New Suffolk County poet laureate wanted to be a cop

08/16/2011 5:54 AM |

COURTESY PHOTO | Edward Stever, a former postal service employee who didn't write a thing until he was 30, was recently appointed Suffolk County Poet Laureate.

Edward Stever has published two collections of poetry. He has written and performed in dozens of plays, many of which he also directed. He has won a number of prestigious awards and recognitions for his writing.

And the Rocky Point resident never wrote a thing until he was 30 years old.

“I was kind of a late bloomer,” said Mr. Stever, a one-time postal worker, who later became a poet and professor.

Now Mr. Stever, 56, has been appointed Suffolk County Poet Laureate, a two-year position that began June 1 and may require him to write poems for government occasions.

Poet Laureate wasn’t something Mr. Stever, who dreamed when he was little of becoming a police officer, planned to tack on to his résumé. He realized he had a gift when he enrolled in his first college course, a writing class, at Suffolk County Community College and his professor told him he was the best in the class.

Now he calls writing “something I have to do.”

Each morning, he’ll read poems from other writers, gaining inspiration and becoming mesmerized with the rhythm of the words.

“It gets you in the right mood,” he said.

And then he’ll write.

Many of his poems contain an element of humor, a mechanism for him to reach a wide audience who can find something in his lines to relate to.

He says he’s inspired by his college professors and by acclaimed poets Charles Simic and William Stafford. Mr. Stafford once told Mr. Stever that his writing allowed him to get on a “deeper wavelength,” a compliment that overcame Mr. Stever.

For his first endeavor as Poet Laureate, Mr. Stever, an adjunct professor of English at SCCC’s Eastern Campus, is currently selecting works from Suffolk County poets which to be performed by actors.

“It’s an attempt to bring poems to a wide audience in a palatable form,” he explained. He strives to “get poetry out there in a way people have not seen it.”

Mr. Stever, who is married and has three daughters, said he was especially pleased to receive the title since he was nominated by former Poet Laureate Tammy Nuzzo-Morgan.

“It’s a great honor,” he said. “I’m extremely flattered and extremely happy.”

samantha@northshoresun.com