Durango is getting its own Poet Laureate, a poet officially hired by a government or institution to write poems for special events and occasions.
In fact, the city is getting two laureates. The city is accepting applications from La Plata County residents until Oct. 16.
A city news release says the Poet Laureate Program will be the first in the city’s history. There are two positions, an adult and youth Poet Laureate, who will receive annual stipends of $2,000 and $500, respectively. Both poets will serve three-year terms.
A Poet Laureate Committee will be led by Gail Lovell of Friends of the Durango Public Library board and Daisy Grice of the Durango Public Library, the release says.
“We are so excited to expand access to all the great poetry that is being created here, and to compensate our local poets for their hard work,” Lovell says in the release. “The committee is also actively seeking one or two additional volunteer members to contribute to the administration of the program, further reflecting the community-driven nature of the initiative.”
Grice said having Poet Laureates enhances the profile of poetry and arts in Durango, and as the city builds out its creative community and economy, appointing two Poet Laureates allows the city to integrate the fine arts into everyday life.
Having a youth Poet Laureate is even better because Durango is home to creative people of all ages.
“Having that opportunity to really celebrate and support a young writer as well as a more mature writer felt like a great (direction) to take the program,” Grice said.
She said the exciting part about appointing the city’s first Poet Laureates is the candidates will have a role in shaping the program and drawing inspiration from their passions, truly allowing them to make their own unique mark on Durango.
The city is funding its Poet Laureate program through its lodgers tax arts and culture fund, and Friends of the Durango Public Library will administer the program, the release says.
“This initiative not only recognizes the exceptional talent of local poets but also reinforces the importance of literary arts in building a flourishing creative economy,” the release says.
The Poet Laureate Program is intended to “promote the essence of poetic expression and weave it into the fabric of everyday life.” The poets will publicly recite original poems that reflect the city’s history and current culture at community events and gatherings, and speak in a variety of locations, according to the city.
The city says a major goal with the new program is to make poetry accessible to everyone and the Poet Laureates “will play a pivotal role in bringing poetry to the forefront of the community's consciousness.”
“These efforts will ensure that the magic of poetry permeates throughout the community, inspiring and enchanting people from all walks of life,” the release says.