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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 their own poetry. The City isn’t currently seeking applications for the poet laureate position.


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 Kathleen O’Toole, and past poet laureates include Donald Berger (2005-2007), Anne Becker (2007-2011), and Merrill Leffler (2011-2018).


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.

Selection Criteria:

The Poet Laureate shall be a Takoma Park resident and an active poet with a well-established body of published work who is comfortable with public speaking.

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 Takoma Park Arts poetry readings at the Takoma Park Community Center 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