Before Nancy G. Steelman retired as a middle school English teacher in Vineland, she portrayed the reclusive poet Emily Dickinson for her students.

“I bought a white wedding gown — Emily only wore white — and did a little piece about her life as an introduction to poetry,” the Vineland resident said.

One student told her, “You should be paid to do that.” And later she was, in area nursing homes and schools, and as far away as a sorority meeting in Boston. But she had to give Harvard University 25 percent of what she made, for the rights to use Dickinson's poems, she said.

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Now Steelman has become a poet who is reclusive in her own way — she rarely communicates online and still sends contest submissions via snail mail, she said.

“I don’t spend time on the computer. I’m a quilter, I play tennis, I do a lot of other things,”said Steelman, 74. She’s also a trustee for the Vineland Historical and Antiquarian Society.

She and fellow poet Mark Soifer, publicist for Ocean City, would like to start a South Jersey poetry society, so writers can meet face-to-face.

Steelman spent her early childhood in Washington, D.C., then moved to Newfield, Gloucester County, with her parents, who started the radio station WWBZ.

She recently won New Jersey's Senior Poet Laureate Award from Amy Kitchener’s Angels Without Wings Foundation, based in California. Her winning entry, “Country Friend,” about a childhood memory of waiting for her friend to finish her farm work, is to the left of this story. For more information, call Steelman at 856-691-7362.

Cornell honors Kligerman

Alan E. Kligerman, developer of Beano and Lactaid and founder of AkPharma Inc. in Egg Harbor Township, was recently given an Outstanding Alumni award from the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, in Ithaca, N.Y.

Kligerman began in 1962 with SugarLo Co., which sold low-sugar frozen desserts and other foods. In 1974, he established the business that became Lactaid Inc., marketing lactase enzyme tablets and dairy products for people with lactose-intolerance, the college said.

In 1991, Kligerman founded AkPharma Inc. to market an enzyme supplement to make beans and vegetables more digestible, under the brand name Beano. Today, he is focused on Prelief 7, a calcium glycerophosphate acid neutralizer that stops discomfort from acidic foods.

Kligerman lives in Egg Harbor Township with his wife Peggy (Suttle), and has five children and nine grandchildren.


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