Robert Bowie, governor of Maryland in the early 1800s, firmly established the prominence that was to surround the names Bowie in the state's politics for most of the last two centuries.

His namesake, Robert Bowie -- 41 and a lifelong resident of University Park and may cause that name to become more widley known in the field of poetry in his home state and others.

The living Bowie has had more than 100 of his poems published in more than 75 periodicles and literary magazines, including Harper's the New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor.

While serving as consultant in poetry at the Library of Congress, poet Stanley Kunitz praised Bowie's work in such glowing phrases as "Your poems are admirably sharp in their details and fine-grained." Author James Dickey, who also was a Library of Congress poetry consultant, called Bowie "a major young American poet."

The endorsement propelled Bowie, a graphics artist, into the highly competitive struggle to be published. His first book of poetry, "The Damning Owl Tree," was selected by a publisher as the most creative manuscript out of hundreds of collections of poetry submitted.

"The publisher folded when the book was at the press," Bowie agonizes. The book-to-be now sits on a bookshelf in his home.

Though Bowie admires some current poets, he feels that "roughly 90 percent of what poetry is being published is a poor attempt at creativity. There is a lack of musicality, a void of quality.

"That is not a very literature-oriented country," he adds. "Television and out-door activities are the main leisure preoccupations of Americans, limiting the market for poetry. But more and more people are writing it these days. Thousands. And the monetary rewards are minimal. Many magazines don't pay at all and those that do pay only offer a paltry sum."

Though he says he would not want to write poetry on a full-time basis, Bowie finds that "creating poetry is an exciting, rewarding experience -- but very hard work. Finding the just-right word or word phrasing is brainwracking. 'Don't settle for the easy way out,' I tell myself. I've spent two years on a title alone."

Bowie is irked by what he perceives as the public's opinion of poets. "One person remarked to me the other day, 'You don't even look like a poet.'

"What in the world is a poet supposed to look like?," he asks, throwing up his hands.

Bowie's style has undergone a change from images of loneliness and desolation with a recurring usage of such words as bones, blood and stone; to spiritually uplifting observations of nature. He continues to yield to an ever-present compulsion to observe mankind.

"Good poetry is not just prettied words and phrasings. It conveys ideas, enlightens, consoles and motivates," he contends. "A good poet reminds us of our ethics or our lack of them."