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Portland police poetry calendar benefits family of officer who died

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Portland police poetry calendar benefits family of officer who died

PORTLAND — When members of the Police Department were approached in 2008 and asked to write poetry for a calendar, many were less than enthusiastic about the idea.

This year, officers and the professional writers they were paired with turned out more than 80 poems to contribute to the 2010 Police Poetry Calendar.

"Last year, we kind of strong-armed officers," said Cmdr. Mike Sauschuck, whose poems are featured in the 2009 and 2010 calendars. "This year, 14 officers volunteered."

The calendar is a project of the national Arts and Equity Initiative "Art at Work" and is a collaboration between the city and the nonprofit Terra Moto, and is directed by Marty Pottenger. The 2009 calendar attracted national attention, with stories in The New York Times, The Guardian, the Chicago Tribune and on several television news outlets.

"It takes a lot for a cop to decide to write poetry," Pottenger said at the unveiling of the new calendar Nov. 25 at the police station. The officers teamed up with local professional writers to craft poems that capture the everyday issues police deal with, both personally and professionally.

"The artists leaped and jumped at the opportunity to take part," said Pottenger. The calendar also features photographs taken by officers and professional photographers.

The 2009 calendar was dedicated to Sgt. Robert Johnsey, who died unexpectedly in 2008. Part of the proceeds from that calendar (it sold for $15) went to the Johnsey Fund.

The 2010 calendar is dedicated to Sgt. Rick Betters, a veteran officer who died unexpectedly of a heart attack this year. Like last year, proceeds will be split between Art at Work and the Rick Betters Family Fund.

A poetry reading is scheduled Wednesday, Dec. 9, from 6-8 p.m. at One Longfellow Square, 181 State St. The reading is free and open to the public.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net