Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Search for the Next St. Louis Poet Laureate Starts Monday

Posted By on Wed, Jun 13, 2018 at 6:55 AM

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Want to be the next ambassador of literary culture in our fine city? Starting Monday, you can apply to become St. Louis’ new poet laureate.

The position of poet laureate is overseen by Lewis Reed, president of the Board of Aldermen. His eight-person selection committee will review poets’ submitted work, biographical sketches, resumes and other documents to find the best wordsmith for the position, which comes with a two-year term.

But be quick with gathering your papers: the submission process opens on Monday, June 18 and closes on July 20, 2018.



And because every aspect of St. Louis government must be a clusterfudge, even this title is not without controversy. The very first St. Louis poet laureate, Michael Castro, was inaugurated in 2015 but served more than two years because power struggles over who would be his successor caused a significant delay in filling the position.

The committee chose Jane Ellen Ibur, but some people with an interest in the project pushed back, and the appointment was never formally made. Ultimately, Castro stepped down last May, saying it was wrong to keep serving after Ibur had been formally selected. Ibur never did officially get the job.

That makes whoever is picked this summer the second poet laureate — assuming the new selection committee (the awesomely-named “St. Louis Poet Laureate Taskforce”) avoids the issues that popped up in the past.

We even wrote a poem about the situation to offer some encouragement:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
We’d like a new poet laureate
How about you?


Interested parties can visit stlouis-mo.gov/poet for more information.

Email the author at jaime.lees@riverfronttimes.com
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