In August (2005) thirteen of us met at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Saginaw, Michigan to read poetry by Rita Dove on the occasion of her birthday. During our time together, Pat, our Newsletter editor, said, "I wonder what she's doing to celebrate her birthday?" A few comments were made, and then Pat said, "Why don't we send her a birthday card?" So we did something we had never done before: Pat bought a birthday card, everyone signed it, and then Pat mailed it to Ms. Dove's publisher who forwarded it to Ms. Dove. Pat must have included the P.O. Box number of the River Junction Poets, because that is the address Ms. Dove sent her response to. We received a note from her in September of 2005. Here's what she wrote:
Dear River Junction Poets,
What a surprise to receive a birthday card from all of you! This has never happened to me before; it's such a sweet gesture.
It must feel terrific to be part of a group of like-minded people who gather to discuss each other's poetic efforts -- I think it's the best way to hone your craft and find your own voice. To have such a group of serious poets read and discuss my work is an honor. Thank you for marking my birthday as you did, and thank you for letting me know about it! Your card is propped up on my desk, where I can look at it and smile.
Best wishes to you,
We were thrilled to receive any response at all from such a highly esteemed and accomplished poet. The fact that she served as U.S. Poet Laureate came up during our time together. Pat quoted her note to us in the River Junction Poets Newsletter. That Ms. Dove responded with such warmth was just beyond our expectations. Ms. Dove's thoughtful response has encouraged us to send birthday cards to all the living poets whose birthdays and poetry we celebrate.