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Poet Laureate Program

Established in 2005, the Takoma Park Poet Laureate program honors the achievements of a local poet who serves 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 poetry.


The City of Takoma Park has a long tradition of supporting poetry through the Takoma Park Arts poetry series and the “Writing a Village” poetry workshops. Takoma Park is well-known as an arts destination, and the poet laureate supports our distinctive arts-friendly community. The current poet laureate is Taylor Johnson, and past poet laureates include Donald Berger (2005-2007), Anne Becker (2007-2011), Merrill Leffler (2011-2018), and Kathleen O’Toole (2018-2022).


The Poet Laureate is selected by a committee of local poets and is confirmed by the City Council. The poet laureate serves a three-year term with the possibility of being reappointed to a second term. The Poet Laureate is paid a $2,000 annual honorarium.

Selection Criteria:

The Poet Laureate must live or work in Takoma Park and be an active poet who has had their poetry published in journals, chapbooks, or other publications. The Poet Laureate also should be comfortable with public speaking and leading workshops or other community events.

Duties and Responsibilities: 

The Poet Laureate will propose and complete at least one public project each year that promotes poetry or literature in Takoma Park.  The Poet Laureate frequently serves as the emcee at Takoma Park Arts poetry readings held at the Takoma Park Community Center and chairs the selection committee that chooses poets for future readings.

The Poet Laureate may be asked to read poetry or speak at City Council meetings, other public meetings, and public venues, such as schools or senior centers.

Arts and Humanities Sections