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Everett S. Allen: Great White Father of Iambic Journalism

Everett S. Allen of The Standard Times, New Bedford, Mass.

Everett S. Allen once wrote a lead for his paper, The Standard-Times of New Bedford, Mass., in iambic pentameter. You don’t typically find poets writing news copy. But he was unusual from the start. Even in his later years, he sported a dazzling head of  shoulder-length curly white hair, flaring mutton chops and sailor’s craggy face, looking for all the word as he had just stepped out of 1968 and the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. It was for this reason that Roy Peter Clark called him the Great White Father of Iambic Journalism.

He won the first column-writing competition sponsored by the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1979. When I read these magnificent pieces, I sought to put his work in The Arizona Daily Star. I called him to see if I could buy the column. The column was not available through major newspaper syndicates. In fact, he said, his column appeared only in The Standard Times and the Raleigh News and Observer. I asked if he would send us a third copy, and we agreed on the price: $15 per column.

The column appeared Sundays. No other than the three newspapers ran his column. We spoke often by phone and finally met at conference in New England. He wrote twice as long as most columnists, about 1,500 words. He was certainly worth the space. Four of his books are still available and listed here along with a biography.

The columns here from the ASNE competition are in pdf format. Just click on the link.