The recently published book of poetry, “Gateway: Gulfport Poets” features the musings of 12 local writers, including Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson, as well as a retired hypnotherapist Dianne Marlene Kress.
The collection serves as a fundraiser for The Circle of Friends of the Gulfport Library and is edited by Gulfport’s poet laureate, Peter Hargitai, who allowed anyone with a passion for words to have a spot in the collection.
Hargitai spent three years waiting on a rejection from an American publishing company before taking the book to an India-based publisher, Cyberwit.net.
The first official copies came out in June.
“I accepted anyone with a passion for poetry, who writes poetry, that’s all it takes,” Hargitai said. “Radical inclusion, that’s what I’ll call it.”
The 200 pages are filled with the hyper-contrasting work of Vincent Spina, Stone Handy, Molly Ellowis, Michael Henry Fridovich, Jude Bagatti, Nadine Miller, Rob McCabe, Michael Arthur Taylor, Ellen Noto, Henderson, Kress and Bob Bates.
The Circle of Friends, a nonprofit dedicated to bettering the local library, receives a portion of sales, though, in Hargitai’s words, it’s not exactly a get rich quick scheme.
“There’s no money in poetry unless you’re Madonna or somebody,” the poet laureate said. “No one gets rich, but the pennies stack up.”
Who Said It?
An unlikely name in the print credits, Gulfport councilmember and veteran Michael Fridovich, has his share of unpunctuated poems in the book.
Fridovich, a private writer, began jotting down poetry in his teens and was published once circa 1977 in liberal political magazine, In These Times.
“I find poetry to be a little easier than prose; I don’t punctuate because I don’t know how,” the councilmember joked.
Fridovich isn’t the only city official in the book; Henderson is heavily featured in Gateway as well. As the previous Gulfport poet laureate and a local musician, his work comes a little more naturally.
“I was a big reader as a kid, and I loved the way an author could capture an emotion or the most intimate part of a story with poetry,” Henderson said. “For me, it was a beautiful thing to be published.”
Hargitai’s wife and previous Miami hypnotherapist, Kress, didn’t begin writing poetry until she moved to Gulfport.
She worked as a therapist helping people with addictions for 25 years and is the woman whom Hargitai credits for teaching him to drive a car and teach English after coming to America as a Hungarian Revolution refugee.
“Once I retired to Gulfport, I was free,” Kress said. “I began painting with my words.”
Her work ranges from retelling of dreams, descriptions of Florida nature and an evening babysitting her grandchild.
“Sometimes I just have this urge to put it on paper,” Kress said.
Gateway: Gulfport Poets is available on Amazon or directly from the publisher at cyberwit.net/publications/1716.