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Kenneth Lawrence Beaudoin: Poet Laureate Of The River

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Kenneth Lawrence Beaudoin (1913-1995) was dubbed the Poet Laureate of the River at the 1976 Mid-South Festival. This was a fitting title for a man who not only produced a large quantity of poetry, but who also invented a new style of verse. Beaudoin's creations, called Eye-Poems, were a combination of words and pictures and represented a whole new style of poetic verse with imagery.

Over his career, he created thousands of Eye-Poems, and, in 1947, 6,000 were selected and published by Archangel Press. Beaudoin's love of poetry was not confined to solitary work, but found expression in his efforts to get Memphis and Tennessee interested in creating and sharing poetry. He presided over a Memphis literary club and also helped create the Poetry Society of Tennessee.

Even though Beaudoin experienced success with is work, the financial realities of life required that he find employment. From the 1950s until 1980, Beaudoin worked as the chief clerk for the criminal intelligence branch of the Memphis Police Department. Beaudoin saw his job as a perfect place to study human behavior, and became the inspiration for later poems.

Beaudoin retired as chief clerk in 1980 due to blindness, an ironic twist for the man who created the Eye-Poem.

To learn more about all of our region's history, visit the Pink Palace Family of Museums, or on Facebook, or at http://www.memphismuseums.org.