Did you know a new Poet Laureate was just name by the Library of Congress?
What is a poet laureate? Wikipedia describes the United States Library of Congress Poet Laureate, formerly the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress duties and remuneration;
“Laureates receive a US$35,000 stipend and are given the responsibility of overseeing an ongoing series of poetry readings and lectures at the library, and a charge to promote poetry. No other duties are specified, and laureates are not required to compose for government events or in praise of government officials. However, after the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, the then Poet Laureate, Billy Collins, was asked to write a poem to be read in front of a special joint session of Congress. Collins wrote “The Names” which he read on September 6, 2002, which is available in streaming audio and video..<..> When the $35,000 stipend was instituted, the amount was quite large and was intended to allow the poet laureate to abandon worries about earning a living and devote his or her time entirely to writing poetry. That amount has remained the same, so the intent of making it a nice living for a poet is no longer being fulfilled. Now it functions as a bonus for a poet who usually is teaching at a university and earns the bulk of his or her living that way.”
The newly minted American Poet Laureate is Charles Wright from the state of Tennessee. He and previous laureates are described in a New York Times article;
“Mr. Wright, who was born in Pickwick Dam, Tenn., not far from the Civil War battlefield at Shiloh, succeeds another Southerner, Natasha Trethewey. But Mr. Wright’s work — oblique meditations on “language, landscape and the idea of God,” as he once summed up his themes — could not be more different from Ms. Trethewey’s evocations of the forgotten African-American lives, or from the Whitmanesque poems about working-class Detroit by the previous laureate, Philip Levine.”
“Mr. Wright, 78, a retired professor at the University of Virginia, has already won just about every other honor in the poetry world, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Bollingen Prize and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.”
Until now I’ve never read Mr. Wright’s poetry nor to be honest heard of his work, which given his prolific writing and obvious success is sad. But now that I am writing a few poems and rhymes I feel compelled to seek some of his writing out along with that of the previous poet laureate’s. I like that our government is supporting this type of artist, even if it is very modestly in this age of big paychecks. I wish him luck and hope that he inspires a few more poets to start on their writing path.
Do you have a favorite poet?
Wallace Stevens. Insurance company manager and superb poet.