We hate to admit it but hats, as the sartorial norm, are extinct, at least as they were once known. Poet Laureate of the United States (2001-2003) Billy Collins gets it. Read his poem, The Death of the Hat.
It suggests that we’ve somehow lost something with the death of the hat culture, something so basic and elemental as to be found in nature. And we’re the poorer for it. Pretty deep stuff. But what else did you expect from a Poet Laureate?
At VCH, we love hats. We don’t have to get too deep and philosophical about it, that’s what we have Billy Collins for…but check out our visit to Paul’s Hats in San Francisco last year, where they still make them one at a time, the old fashioned way.
I collected hats as a kid. I still have a London-made deer stalker around here somewhere that I bought in a second hand shop after discovering Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s wonderful detective. Still, I collected hats more often than I wore them.
Still do. I have a few hats scattered around my office that symbolize something or other that's significant to me…that don’t get worn.
While we're at it, check out Paul B. Janeczko's delightful anthology of poems for children, created with his illustrator Raschka: The Death of The Hat—A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects.
It's a steal for just over 15 bucks as a hardback with Amazon Prime.
It's a great way to introduce kids to great poetry, and it helps that is has an actual theme that's fun...something that should make it more accessible to younger readers.
Wear your hats, or display them, or do as you must. Just don't forget them.