KEW GARDENS, NY, March 2, 2010-- At an 11 am press conference at Borough Hall today, Borough President Helen Marshall and Queens College President James Muyskens announced that the search for the fifth Poet Laureate of Queens has officially begun. The Queens Poet Laureate is a three-year, honorary appointment.
“Here in Queens, we are blessed to have an enormous number of talented poets,” said Borough President Helen Marshall. “We are looking for one who, like our four previous Poets Laureate, has a unique ability to inspire Queens residents of all ages and cultural backgrounds, who will promote a love of poetry among young and old, and who will actively engage our multi-ethnic communities in the art of poetry reading and writing for the next three years.”
“Poetry is for everyone,” remarked President Muyskens. “You say you don’t like poetry? Well, then let me recommend to you a poem by the great Marianne Moore that is about not liking poetry. It begins: ‘I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle.’ Yes, even a poet can tire of poetry. But later in the same poem Moore writes, ‘Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers in it after all, a place for the genuine.’
“That is what we will be looking for in our next laureate: a poet who knows the difference between all this fiddle and the genuine, and has the skill to write about both. And in the great borough of Queens with its voices from all over the world, our challenge will be not to find a poet laureate, but to choose only one.”
The former Poet Laureates are Queens College Professor Emeritus Stephen Stepanchev, who served an extra year (1997-2001), Hal Sirowitz (2001-2004), and Ishle Yi Park (2004-2007). Julio Marzan currently holds the position.
The idea for a Queens Poet Laureate was proposed in 1996 by the Friends of the Queens College Library, a volunteer support group, and endorsed by then-Queens Borough President Claire Shulman.
The Poet Laureate position requires a three-year time commitment, including the poet’s participation in at least one annual event sponsored by the Queens Borough President’s Office. Aspiring Poet Laureates must have lived in Queens for at least the past two years and demonstrated a significant publication record. The judges want to know if applicants have published poetry collections; been included in recognized journals, anthologies, recorded spoken word presentations, and online poetry web sites; participated in poetry readings; and can articulate their vision for outreach to the Queens community.
Applicants must send no more than 10 single-sided pages of their best poetry, which includes work related to Queens, along with a cover letter, brief general bio and literary resume. Bilingual poets are welcome to apply, but their sample must be submitted in English and they must be able to read their work publicly in English. Spoken word artists are also welcome to apply.
To view full guidelines and to access applications, visit the Queens Borough President's web site: http://www.queensbp.org . Submissions, which must be received by Wednesday, April 14, will be evaluated by a panel of judges chosen by the Queens Poet Laureate Administrative Committee. The Borough President will review the judges' recommendations and make the appointment. The selection of the fifth Queens Poet Laureate will be announced at a ceremony in June.