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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 both young and old to write their own poetry. The City isn’t currently seeking applications for the poet laureate position.

Background:

Takoma Park has a long tradition of supporting poetry through the monthly Third Thursday Poetry Reading series, the “Writing a Village” poetry workshops, the annual Favorite Poem Evening, 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).

Term:

The Poet Laureate shall be selected for a two-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 one public project of his/her choosing that promotes poetry or literature during his/her two-year term.

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

The Poet Laureate may be involved in coordinating the Third Thursday Poetry Reading series, possibly serving as moderator at the readings and on the selection committee that chooses poets for future readings.

 

Arts & Humanities Sections