Why communities should appoint a poet laureate?
The arts are essential to the health and vivacity of every community. Poetry, an ancient art which maintains its vitality today, is something people turn to for solace, enlightenment, and delight. A poet laureate can serve as an ambassador representing a locality in the greater arts community.
A poet laureate is a person who is recognized for his or her long-standing involvement in poetry. This person demonstrates passion and expertise in the field, and works to promote poetry in the general culture. We have a state poet laureate, but urge the cities, towns, and regions of Connecticut to also consider appointing their own poets laureate. In order to appoint a poet laureate, a committee that might include a mayor, members of a town council, or members of a local arts council should identify one or more persons who demonstrate a serious commitment to poetry, and then make an appointment.
Our coalition, The Connecticut Coalition of Poets Laureate (CCPL) can provide advice or assistance in this process.
What Does a Poet Laureate Do?
A poet laureate engages in activities that promote the public enjoyment of poetry. Here are just some examples:
- participate in the activities of CCPL
- organize and / or participate in poetry readings open to the public
- read a poem at a town event
- write or find poems about the community, historical events, figures, etc.
- visit schools and work with students
- present poetry workshops
- facilitate the publication of an anthology of poetry by community members
- participate in or help organize ekphrastic poetry events (art & poetry)
- manage a poetry showcase in a public area such as the town hall or library
- work with the local library to create a poetry corner or collection of poetry books by CT authors
- create or facilitate the creation of a poetry bench
- create or facilitate the creation poetry posts in the public parks
- be available for poetry consultations and/or outreach with community groups
- work with other poetry associations such as CPS and the Sunken Garden
Recommendations For Picking A Poet Laureate
Looking at what some towns have done, we can make these suggestions: The poet laureate can be appointed by the mayor, the town council, the arts commission, or the library board.
Requirements might include some of the following: age 18 or older, resident of the community, desire to engage with the community in ways that promote poetry, evidence of knowledgeable engagement with poetry through the years Some towns require an application. That could include a resume, a cover letter, and samples of the applicant's poetry. Laureates are appointed anywhere from two years to a lifetime appointment. Three years is common.
Opportunities: reception held in his or her honor soon after appointment, represent the town as part of the CCPL Duties: Engage the community in the appreciation of poetry through various activities such as public readings or special projects.