Los Angeles Seeks City’s First Poet Laureate

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 9:00am
Advocacy Team (if applicable): 

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced last week the establishment of an official Poet Laureate program for the City of Los Angeles.

Poets laureate serve as official ambassadors for poetry at the local, state, and national level. They often work at the community level to spark deeper interest both writing and reading contemporary poetry.  The Los Angeles Poet Laureate will visit at least four schools each year and give at least four readings of new work, past original work appropriate for the event, or historical work by Los Angeles poets.

Additionally, the poet laureate will write at least one commemorative poem about Los Angeles during her or his tenure.  All the poet’s laureate’s activities will be reviewed and approved by the Department of Cultural Affairs, which supports the position with a $10,000 grant each year.

“In a city that prides itself on its creativity and dedication to a vital and thriving arts community, Los Angeles is pleased to add this new program to our portfolio of arts initiatives citywide,” Mayor Villaraigosa said of the new opportunity.

Candidates for the appointed position must be poets who demonstrate excellence in their artistic work and have received wide recognition in the professional community.  They must also have significant ties to the Los Angeles community.

Nominations will be reviewed by a task force of significant poets, including Dana Gioia, previous chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts; poets William Archila, Kate Gale, Douglas Kearney, and Amy Uyematsu; and prose writer Carolyn See. The task force will then send their recommendations to the mayor’s office and the Department of Cultural Affairs for consideration.

Councilman Richard Alarcón, Chair of the City's Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee, underscored the mayor’s remarks by saying, “We all have tremendous pride in the cultural and creative history of Los Angeles and a Poet Laureate would help eloquently share the best of our City with the rest of the world.”

The current California Poet Laureate is Juan Felipe Herrera, born in Fowler, California; the United States Poet Laureate is Natasha Trethewey, a Mississippi native.

To review City of Los Angeles Poet Laureate Guidelines and Application/Nomination Instructions, please go to the DCA website at www.culturela.org.  Nominations must be received by 5 p.m. on October 10, 2012.

Photo credit: poetry books by katie cowden, on Flickr