Henry P. Kovarik - Affectionately known as Yaphanks Poet Laureate
I first met Henry Kovarik in 1972 when he was already an old man and a familiar character to Yaphank.
He drove a burnt-orange compact car and was always impeccably dressed in a shirt, tie and sports jacket. He wore a fedora and carried a cane. Friendly and courteous, he had immigrated from Moravia and spoke with a heavy accent.
Henry lived on Main Street in an old house where he wrote poetry and welcomed visitors. His office there was quite interesting. All four’ walls were covered with pictures from magazines. The pictures spanned decades and made a continuous collage. Upon close inspection, one could read hundreds of bits poetry that Henry had written in comment.
He said that there was truth in pictures and that he enjoyed looking at them and writing of the human condition.
In the office there was also a roll top desk and beside it stood a huge safe. The safe door always stood wide-open! Henry kept his valuables there. It was filled with his poetry. Barrister bookcase stood along the wall topped with the biggest bird nests I’d ever seen. He gathered the nests at the end of each summer and admired their construction over the winter months. Henry wrote piles of poems - many about Yaphank and some about America. He was very patriotic.
He longed to form a poetical society in Yaphank, but, alas, there weren’t many poets there. Henry complained that little attention was paid to the development of poets.
Instead of a poetical society, Henry established The Henry P. Kovarik Foundation for Poetry to do good works on behalf of poetry after his death.
Henry passed away in 1983, but he is not forgotten in Yaphank. There is a Kovarik Room at the Longwood Public Library where poetry workshops are held. His foundation provides programs, books and tapes at the library to encourage poetry.
The foundation also awards scholarships to Longwood High School graduates who have demonstrated an active interest in poetry.
Henry P. Kovarik was the gentleman poet of Yaphank. He was a local character who possessed good character.