Today is the publication date for Poems by Presidents: The First-Ever Anthology. It’s my third poetry anthology to be published by Dover Publications in the last year and a half, and it was inspired by its predecessors: There Once Was a Limerick Anthology and Acrostic Poetry: The First-Ever Anthology!
Whereas Poems by Presidents includes two limericks by Woodrow Wilson, There Once Was a Limerick Anthology includes one:
I sat next to the Duchess at tea; It was just as I feared it would be: Her rumblings abdominal Were truly phenomenal, And everyone thought it was me!
I found it so fascinating that a president had written a limerick that Wilson is one of only six contributors highlighted in the subtitle and on the cover of There Once Was a Limerick Anthology. In the limerick anthology, I also noted, “At a conference in 1990, [George H. W.] Bush got bored and wrote dirty limericks about world leaders.” However, these limericks are not extant.
While researching Acrostic Poetry, I stumbled upon an acrostic by John Quincy Adams. This made me wonder whether other presidents had written acrostics, which led me to George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant. I included acrostics by all three of those presidents in Acrostic Poetry.
Research at that stage led me to numerous poems by Adams (he wrote about 350) plus one other by Washington. The realization that at least five presidents had written poetry inspired a quest to find more. I wondered, Could there be another book here? I eventually tripled my tally and discovered that fifteen presidents have written poetry! Poems by Presidents features poems by eleven presidents (including six by Wilson, twenty-one by Adams, two by Washington, and one by Grant) and discusses four additional presidents who have written poetry (including Bush).
After seeing how much naysayers dismiss limericks and acrostics, I’m glad that Poems by Presidents gave me the opportunity to feature those forms alongside so-called serious poetry. They belong in the same conversation! This is especially true in the Wilson chapter.
As a researcher, I find it tremendously gratifying when one project not only works out well but leads to another. From researching my first three poetry anthologies, I have several ideas for additional projects in different directions. It’s a wonderful feeling when research and hard work bear fruit!