Ken Siegelman, Brooklyn’s poetic voice, is dead

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Brooklyn’s poet laureate, Ken Siegelman, died on Friday at his home in Gravesend. He was 63.

Since being named the official poetic voice by Borough President Markowitz in 2002, Siegelman, the author of more than 200 published poems, was a tireless promoter of verse throughout Brooklyn, a regular at public events, libraries and schools.

All the while, he maintained the frenetic pace of a working poet, writing new verse regularly. Indeed, his latest poem, “Stage Fright,” was published in May. And last year, Siegelman’s life and poetry became the fodder for a full-length feature film, “Fading to Zero.”

On Friday, Markowitz mourned the loss.

“Selecting Ken Siegelman as poet laureate was one of my proudest acts as borough president,” he said. “Like the borough he loved and wrote about, his life was never boring, and he captured all of it — the good, the bad, the ups and downs.

“Ken will be sorely missed, but his words will remain with us and inspire up-and-coming poets for generations to come.”

Before becoming the borough’s poet, Siegelman taught social studies at Abraham Lincoln HS for 33 years. He used poetry to break down cultural and linguistic barriers with his students, many of whom did not speak English.

“Language was the only thing that stood in their way,” Siegelman once said. “So I used my poetry to bridge the language gap.”

In his guise as the laureate, Siegelman hosted Brooklyn Poetry Outreach, a collaboration with Markowitz and the Park Slope Barnes & Noble that features readings and discussion by some of Brooklyn’s best and aspiring poets.

Siegelman is survived by his wife of 45 years, Pearl; daughters Karen and Tara; grandchildren Brooke, Matthew and Rachel; and a sister, Mona.

Siegelman’s last Brooklyn Poetry Outreach event, which was already scheduled before his death, was set for Thursday, June 25, at Barnes and Noble [267 Seventh Ave., at Sixth Street in Park Slope, (718) 832-9066]. Read his last poem at

Updated 5:13 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

luis from best frend says:
god bless ken you are my best frend you are in the sky, have a good trip werever you are and I miss you, you frend mexican frend luis for and ever r.I p. god bless the best man and the heARTH.bye for ever and ever bye.
March 21, 2010, 12:01 am
JM Hidary from Gravesend says:
Ken Siegelman was my World History teacher at A. Lincoln High School in the late 1960's. He was a brilliant and effective teacher, who was one of very few that could educate and enthrall this first generation A.D.D student. I am happy to say that I excelled in his class! After seeing that he was only 63 at the time of his passing, I realize that he was only in his early 20's when he taught me! He was dedicated, and in his own beguiling way, loved his students. A few years ago, I looked him up and phoned him at his home. He didn't remember me, but it was amusing to hear the same voice and personality. I was surprised to hear of his poet career, as told by him, and he was proud of his 'poet laureate' title. I'd like to read his poetry. JMH B'klyn
June 13, 2010, 10:39 pm

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