Michigan City | Emmy award-winning actor, director and writer Gordon Clapp became Pulitzer prize-winning American poet Robert Frost on Sunday in the last program of the Purdue University North Central Sinai Forum.
First known for his role as Detective Greg Medavoy in the television program "NYPD Blue," Clapp took the Elston Middle School stage as a gray-haired Frost wearing a dark suit and tie and plaid muffler.
As Frost, Clapp addressed the audience in monologue, reading some of his more well-known poems and talking about poetry and his life.
With a distinguishable New England accent, Clapp frequently elicited laughter from the audience by displaying some of Frost’s characteristic dry wit.
“Somebody asked me if that was metaphysical and I said yes,” he said, after reading “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening.” “I say yes 50 percent of the time.”
“The Road Not Taken,” he said, demonstrates the mystery behind the meanings of his poems.
“You have to be careful with that poem ... it’s very tricky,” he said. “It’s been taken a lot of ways, that’s all right, you know ... take it further ... take it away.”
Frost said he has a love of metaphor, rhyme and “putting this and that together.”
“You don’t know me if you don’t know how interested I am in coupling and in making rhymes,” he said. “I’m a matchmaker.”
People are always trying to get him to reveal the meaning of his poems, he said.
“I want them to have them for themselves,” he said. “I’m trying to stir you up to tell me something. That’s the game with me all the time.”
As Frost, Clapp moved from a wingback chair on the stage to a rocking chair, where he removed his suit coat and shoes and put on a brown cardigan and sneakers.
Frost spoke of his personal life, calling his wife, Elinor, “unspoken half of anything I ever wrote,” and revealed he never felt comfortable calling himself a poet.
“I don’t like to talk about myself ... . I’d rather hold myself up in rhyme and meter,” he said. “I get enough of myself shaving.
“I think I’m just a rascal,” he said. “The last time I saw T.S. Elliot, we talked about what we call ourselves on our income tax reports ... farmer, teacher ... I never would have put writer. Now I say retired. But this next time I’m going to say resigned and put in parentheses ‘to everything.’”