A Love Letter To Somers In Poetry And Prose

SOMERS, N.Y. – Somers now has a book about itself, called “Cradle of the American Circus: Poems From Somers, New York.” The author is Somers native Jo Pitkin, and the book of poems, prose and illustrations is the author’s tribute to her unique hometown, its citizenry, its architecture, its landmarks and its legends.

“I never thought there was anything special about Somers until I went away to college,” said Pitkin, “but when I told other students that I came from the ‘cradle of the American circus,’ I was amazed at their reactions.”

“I started the book an embarrassingly long time ago,” she continued. “It was the early ’90s. I kept taking poems out and replacing them. It was a big challenge.”

This book was such an unusual project that it was hard to sell it to a publisher.

“Writers are always looking for something that hasn’t been done before,” Pitkin said. “I’m thrilled that the History Press took it. They’ve only ever published one book of poetry before this one.”

Some of the poems, among them, “Stone House,” “Route Book,” “Elephant Hotel,” and “Farmers and Drovers,” have been published previously in literary journals. Several of them have been prize winners. Others were written especially for the book. Illustrations and some prose excerpts were provided by the Somers Historical Society.

Pitkin is a graduate of the University of Iowa’s famous Writers Workshop and has worked as an editor for the Houghton Mifflin Co. in Boston. She had written and published a slew of textbooks, but though she does scholarly research for a living, poetry remains her first love.

The Somers Historical Society will sponsor a book-signing reception at the Elephant Hotel (Routes 100 and 202 in Somers) on Sunday, Aug. 12 at 2 p.m. Everyone is welcome.

“Cradle of the American Circus” is on sale at and at local merchants, including The Mexican Shack and Somers Custom Framing.

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