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Poet Laureate Program

The Takoma Park Poet Laureate program, established by the City Council in 2005, honors the achievements of a local poet who will serve as the city’s ambassador in promoting public appreciation of poetry and literature, supporting a creative community of local poets, and encouraging people of all ages to write their own poetry. The City isn’t currently seeking applications for the poet laureate position.


Takoma Park has a long tradition of supporting poetry through the monthly Third Thursday Poetry Reading series, the “Writing a Village” poetry workshops, and the Spring for Poetry Walk sponsored by the Friends of the Takoma Park Maryland Library. The City is well-known as an arts destination, and the poet laureate supports our distinctive arts-friendly community. The current poet laureate is Kathleen O’Toole, and past poet laureates include Donald Berger (2005-2007), Anne Becker (2007-2011), and Merrill Leffler (2011-2018).


The Poet Laureate shall be selected and appointed for a three-year term with the possibility of being reappointed to a second term.

Selection Criteria:

The Poet Laureate shall be:

  • A Takoma Park resident;
  • An active poet with a well-established body of published work.
  • A person who is recognized by the literary community through awards, public recognition, or letters of recommendation; and
  • A person who is comfortable with public speaking and who has engaged in other areas of community involvement.

Duties and Responsibilities: 

The Poet Laureate will propose and complete at least one public project that promotes poetry or literature during the three-year term. The Poet Laureate frequently serves as the emcee at Third Thursday Poetry readings and chairs the selection committee that chooses poets for future readings.

The Poet Laureate also may be asked to read poetry or speak at City Council meetings, other public meetings, and public venues, such as schools or senior centers. These activities support the goal of encouraging lifelong learning through the arts and humanities. 


Arts and Humanities Sections