Guilford Poets Guild
The Guilford Poets Guild was organized in 1998, and in 1999 the organization produced “An Anthology of Guilford Poets.” The Guilford-area poets meet regularly to discuss poetry, plan readings, and work with high school students in local schools. In 2009 the group published “The Guilford Poets Guild Tenth Anniversary Anthology.”
Fitz-Greene Halleck – Poet
July 8, 1790 – November 19, 1867
Fitz-Greene Halleck’s popularity as a poet reached its zenith in the 1820s and 1830s when he produced “Alnwick Castle” and the long poem “Marco Bozzaris,” considered his masterpiece by his contemporaries.
Born and raised in Guilford, Halleck moved to New York at the age of 20. A banker by trade, he began collaborating with writer Joseph Rodman Drake in a series of satires, “The Croaker Papers,” in 1819. Published anonymously, the series became popular for its irreverent view of New York society and culture. That year, he also published “Fanny,” a satirical narrative poem. The next year, Drake died. Halleck’s grief inspired one of his most famous poems, “On the Death of Joseph Rodman Drake.”
By this time, Halleck’s popularity as a writer drew him into the Knickerbocker group, a circle of New York literati that included Washington Irving and William Cullen Bryant. Though nicknamed “The American Byron,” he continued to work in banking and in other financial jobs.
In 1849, Halleck returned to Guilford and lived here until his death in 1867. In 1877, a statue of Halleck was dedicated in New York’s Central Park by President Rutherford B. Hayes. The memorial’s inscription states: “One of the few, the immortal names that were not born to die.” Halleck is the only American writer honored in the “Literary Walk” of Central Park.