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Maine poet leaves April 7 to visit 80 poets graves in 11 states

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PORTLAND, Maine — A poet and filmmaker plans to visit and film more than 80 poets' graves in 11 western states in the coming months.

Freeport resident Walter Skold, a 53-year-old former middle school computer teacher, said the journey will bring his total number of graves visited to 400. He and his son Simon, 26, leave April 7.

Skold said his ultimate goal is to document 500 dead poets' graves in all corners of the country. He said the pair hope the project brings attention to National Poetry Month, which begins April 1.

PHOTO: FILE - In this April 20, 2010 file photo, Walter Skold of Freeport, Maine, reads a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem while posing in Eastern Cemetery in Portland, Maine. Skold plans to depart April 7, 2014 to visit and film more than 80 poets’ graves in 11 western states over the coming months.  (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)
FILE - In this April 20, 2010 file photo, Walter Skold of Freeport, Maine, reads a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem while posing in Eastern Cemetery in Portland, Maine. Skold plans to depart April 7, 2014 to visit and film more than 80 poets’ graves in 11 western states over the coming months. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

"There's this whole long tradition of poets visiting poets' graves and writing about them," he said. "I invariably find that they have an interesting story to tell."

Skold will travel as far as California in Dedgar, a Dodge Sprinter he also calls "the Poemobile." D.H. Lawrence, Denise Levertov, Richard Hugo and Charles Bukowski are among the bigger names on the tour.

Skold said one of his goals for the project is to generate appreciation for less-known poets whose work faded in popularity after they died. That's why he will visit the grave of Joe Speer — locally knows as "Albequerque's Jack Kerouac" — in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Skold, who calls himself "the Dead Poet Guy," began visiting poets' graves in 2009.

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