By Bailey Hendricks (Class of 2017)
Poet laureate is an honor that is bestowed upon the poet in a given geographic area who is expected to compose poems for special events and occasions. This person is usually appointed by government or a designated arts group. In Bucks County, New Hope-Solebury English teacher Alexa Gutter was selected for the fresh and original voice present in her intensely crafted poems.
“I was surprised and honored to get this type of recognition,” said Gutter. She has been reading and writing poetry since around the age of four and it started merely as a form of expression, but as she kept writing, the creative medium became more and more meaningful.
Gutter found her greatest inspiration and influence in the poets Mary Oliver and Pablo Neruda. Neruda was a politically active writer from Chile whose poems touched her with their beauty. Oliver wrote about the perfection and simplicity of nature, another topic Gutter wrote of as a child and continue to inspire her as an accomplished poet in her own right. I talked to her before her first official reading on Sunday, Nov. 17, and found her very forthcoming and candid on her priorities.
“My reading this weekend, getting through that,” she said. But the award was definitely a good push to get her work out there and to start publishing. “I always thought I would just write when I got older,” said Gutter.
She was surprised to receive such an honor so early on in her career, but she is eager to take up the challenge. With such apparent ample talent, Gutter could have easily pursued a writing career, but to her “it just didn’t seem realistic.” She loves teaching, and it allows her to continue writing. “Teaching doesn’t feel completely separate from writing,” she said.
“I tried to capture moments that stuck out as meaningful or beautiful,” Gutter said of the series of ten poems she selected to enter in the competition.
One memory was of the birth of her nephew, while the other was of the time a man jumped in front of the train she was traveling on.
“I like my poems to be sad, funny, beautiful, and true all at once. That is my goal,” she said.
Gutter’s numerous students at New Hope-Solebury High School are very proud of her. Gutter “is a fun, creative, and inspirational teacher,” said freshman Katie Steele. Nicole Martin said, “She pushes us to think deeply and expand our thought process. She’s always creative in how she goes about teaching us new things.”
As for Gutter’s reading this past Sunday, it went very well, and she seemed quite pleased when talking about it with students.
Gutter also wanted to tell young and aspiring poets to read. “Read as much good poetry as you can. That is where you learn by seeing others’ skills.”
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