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Founder of Dead Poets Society of America visits 500th grave in Alabama

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BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — A Maine man who travels the country to document the final resting places of poets has reached a milestone.

Walter Skold, founder of the Dead Poets Society of America, said his visit Friday to the grave of Sun Ra in Birmingham, Alabama, marked the 500th site. Sun Ra, who died in 1993, was a poet who was better known as a musical composer and performer who espoused a "cosmic philosophy" and claimed to have come from another planet.

PHOTO: Walter Skold, right, founder of the Dead Poets Society of America, visits the final resting place of notable poet, jazz musician and philosopher Sun Ra at Elmwood cemetery in Birmingham, Ala., Friday, July 10, 2015.  The visit marked the 500th grave of a dead poet he has visited since starting his literary journey six years ago. Craig Legg, a Sun Ra fan from Birmingham, reads his poetry aloud. (Tamika Moore/AL.com via AP) MAGS OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
Walter Skold, right, founder of the Dead Poets Society of America, visits the final resting place of notable poet, jazz musician and philosopher Sun Ra at Elmwood cemetery in Birmingham, Ala., Friday, July 10, 2015. The visit marked the 500th grave of a dead poet he has visited since starting his literary journey six years ago. Craig Legg, a Sun Ra fan from Birmingham, reads his poetry aloud. (Tamika Moore/AL.com via AP) MAGS OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT

"Every poet is unique but he's the first of 500 that arrived from Saturn," Skold said.

While in Birmingham, Skold read Dudley Randall's "Ballad of Birmingham" at the memorial to four girls killed in a church bombing in 1963. He said a previous visit had moved him to tears.

Skold, 54, of Freeport, Maine, is in the midst of a 10-week trip to visit 90 graves, mostly in the Deep South.

On Saturday, he was attending an event in Atlanta to celebrate local poets. He planned to leave a wreath at the gravesite of the mother of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

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