Word on Wednesday: Poet Laureate

April is National Poetry Month, so declared in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets. That organization claims the month of April has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture.

 

Here at Words, Crazy Words, I’ll shed light on four poetry related terms. First, this week, a spotlight on Poet Laureate, as ambassador for bringing poetry to the people. Later, terms used to write and understand poetry will be explored including caesura, enjambment, and cacophonies.

The United States created a largely ceremonial position of poet laureate in 1985. However, the British had its first in 1616. The term, itself, dates from Middle English, 1350-1400.

Three current definitions of the noun poet laureate are 1. (in Great Britain) a poet appointed for life as an officer of the royal household, formerly expected to write poems in celebration of court and national events; 2. a poet recognized or acclaimed as the most eminent of representative of a country or locality; 3. (formerly) a poet whose efforts were officially recognized, as by a sovereign, university, etc.

In Wisconsin, where I live, there has been a state Poet Laureate since 2000. The position is filled by a competitive process for a two-year term. The State’s distinguished poet canvases the state sharing the value of poetry, creativity, and artistic expression through publication, performance, education, and digital and mass media.

Individuals from the following organizations make up the Poet Laureate Commission:

The Poet Laureate Commission is comprised of volunteers who represent the Wisconsin Academy, Wisconsin Center for the Book, Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets,  Wisconsin Humanities Council, and the Wisconsin Arts Board, as well as serve as several at-large members.

As April continues, I will examine additional words used to describe poetry.

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