Photo of David Cundy by Pam Johnson.
Article Published February 20, 2019
Carrying On the Craft and Community Contributions: Cundy Helps Guilford Poets Guild Celebrate 20 Years
Pam Johnson, Senior Staff Writer
Finding a way to both recognize 20 years of Guilford Poets Guild (GPG) and carry on the craft and cause of GPG’s founders is no small effort. Throughout 2019, GPG members will take on that weighty task, led by GPG President David Lawrence Cundy, aka Wild Cave Redundancy (more on that later).
“I’m very excited about the guild. This is our 20th anniversary year, so we’re going to be celebrating that in a number of ways,” says David. “It’s a year of celebration of what I believe is the guild’s service to our community.”
One of the ways GPG serves the community is through its free, public Second Thursday Poetry Series at Guilford Free Library (GFL). The open mic portion gives citizens the chance to share their poetry, while the second half of the evening brings in well-known poets to read their work.
GPG kicked off its 20th anniversary on Feb. 14 with the guild’s first event of the year: a special Second Thursday at GFL held in collaboration with Friends of the Library that honored the late Charlotte Currier, one of the early members of the guild.
“It was wonderful. We had really great attendance, and…the attendees included one of the founders of the guild, Maureen Corcoran,” says David.
David was also delighted that the night’s appreciation was led by two very early GPG members, Gwenn Gunn and Gordy Whiteman. Whiteman is past president of the guild.
GPG Second Thursday events run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at GFL, 67 Park Street. Spring events are set for March 14 (Rayon Lennon), April 11 (Margaret Gibson), May 9 (Guilford High School Poetry Contest Winners). Fall events are scheduled for Sept. 12 (Norman Thomas Marshall and Gemma Mathewson) and Oct. 10 (Elizabeth Possidente and David Cundy).
Ahead of GPG’s annual Second Thursday Holiday Roundtable set for Dec. 12, the series will present a special night of readings from the GPG’s 20th Anniversary Anthology at GFL on Thursday, Nov. 14. It will be a full-circle moment for many, says David.
“The GPG was founded by Maureen Corcoran and Katrina Van Tassel as well as a number of other people [in] 1999 to publish an anthology of the work of Guilford poets,” he says. “So that’s how the GPG actually began. And now, we’re finishing up our third anthology.”
While the Second Thursday Poetry Series is rolling out a full roster of events in 2019, “that’s only one aspect of our service,” David says. “Another area in which we serve the community, and for which I’m really proud of the guild, is for our high school poetry competition, which includes cash prizes.”
In another form of community service, on Sunday, March 3, GPG will be part of an interesting collaboration with Guilford Art Center (GAC), as part of GAC’s annual Faculty Exhibition in the center’s Mill Gallery. GAC’s Faculty Exhibition opened Feb. 1 and runs through Sunday, March 10 as a free public event (find more information at http://www.guilfordartcenter.org). The exhibit features varied works created by the center’s teaching artists. On March 3, from 2 to 4 p.m., GPG members will read poems inspired by art in the exhibit. Such art-inspired poems are known as ekphrastic poetry, David explains. The event is free, open to the public, and also encourages attendees to bring their own poem to share.
Another community contribution made by GPG members is sharing their original work through changing poems posted by GPG at Guilford Town Hall.
“And although everyone thinks, ‘Well, it’s just something you walk by,’ I’ve been told by at least one colleague that she was approached by one of our fellow residents here in Guilford and told how much the poem that she has up right now in Town Hall touched that person,” says David. “So we know that poetry touches people”
The Creative Life
An author, artist, and poet, David says his participation in GPG inspired his most recent book, Inappropriate Anagrams. Available at http://www.davidcundyauthor.com (or on the new author shelves at GFL), the book pairs David’s original, entertaining anagrammatic poems and collage portraits of 40 historical luminaries to expose their “secret alter egos,” as David quips.
“I’d written a biographical poem in a format which I realized was in iambic tetrameter, and I realized that it could be applied to anyone. And so then, when I was exploring one of my favorite artists, Agnes Martin…I decided that I would explore anagrams. And I found out that her anagrams included Magnets Rain and Saint Engram and Mantas Reign. And I said, ‘You know, I can work with this.’”
David’s anagrammatic poems and collage portraits are laid out side-by-side on the pages of the book. David’s portrait of Martin as Magnet Rains depicts her as a pair of piercing eyes set within her silhouette, as ink-etched horseshoe magnets rain past. His collage of Gertrude Stein plays with a famous photo of the artist taken by Man Ray to illustrate the anagram “Tiger Dentures.”
David, who was amused to find his own anagrammed name becomes Wild Cave Redundancy, has also creatively skewered/paid homage to the likes of Charles Darwin (Narwhals Cried), Cleopatra (Cat Parole), Sigmund Freud (Guru’s Mind Fed), and others. He coined the book’s literary art form “shenanagrams” and created a list of text-constraining rules by which these poems can be developed (he includes those rules in the book).
David has lived in New York and taught media at universities in that state, as well as being engaged as a cultural journalist covering some of America’s leading poets (he’s also reviewed books by Ursula Le Guin). He first came to the shoreline in 1978 and lived in Madison for a time, where he has family. David grew up in Iowa.
“My interest in poetry began when I was a child,” says David, who pored over volumes of the mid-century publication, Childcraft Poems of Early Childhood. David and his sister were introduced to the books by his mother, an elementary school teacher.
“We were reading all these wonderful poems,” says David. “Robert Frost’s ‘The Pasture’…and Carl Sandburg’s ‘Fog’ and nonsense poems like Edward Lear’s ‘The Jumblies.’”
A graphic artist, David has designed type at Linotype in New York as well as with the renowned type designer Matthew Carter in London, and has his own firm, Design Trust.
In 2016, David debuted his first children’s book, for which he is the author and illustrator, Animals Spell Love. The book emphasizes diversity, using illustrations of animals to spell the word “love” in 16 languages.
David says finding the perfect work studio for his writing and illustrating is one of the reasons he moved to Guilford in 2017. At the time, he was looking for an inspiring workspace to develop his second children’s book, Animals Spell Peace. Currently, it’s also where he’s working on his second book of anagrams and collage.
“I’ve got a wonderful atelier on the corner of the green in Guilford. I tell everyone that Guilford is utopia,” says David. “It’s utopia for many reasons. I think the main reason, although the Guilford Green is wonderful, is the people here. I’ve met so many wonderful people since moving into Guilford.”
David is one of several GPG presidents who had a fairly short tenure as a member of the group before taking on the presidency.
“I think the guild really does appreciate new blood, and we’re always looking for new voices and appreciate new voices,” he says, adding, “I am a peer among equals as president, and I am really honored to be serving both the guild and the Guilford community.”
For more information about the Guilford Poets Guild and upcoming events, visit http://www.guilfordpoetsguild.org.