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Sunday, August 25 News

Westport seeking a poet ‘ambassador’

Laurel Peterson was excited when she heard that Westport is seeking to appoint a poet laureate.

“Yay!” she said.

Peterson is just coming off her own stint as Norwalk’s poet laureate, and really believes in the power of poetry.

“Seeing how it’s used to convey meaning, convey emotion, convey message, it helps us get to the heart of something, to see what a writer is trying to communicate,” she said. “Because it looks so closely at things it also ends up being closer to our hearts.”

She described the job of a poet laureate as akin to that of “an ambassador.”

“My job was to infuse the community in Norwalk with poetry wherever I found an opportunity to do that,” she said.

Kelle Rudin would agree. The Westport Arts Advisory Committee member is running the search for a town poet laureate, and she said whoever takes on the role will be a poet — of course — but also “be an advocate for poetry and literature in the community.”

“We really want this person to step forward and promote poetry as a form of communication,” she said. “A lot of it won’t just be the person’s writing style, their willingness to engage in the community. It’ll be about their willingness to bring out the poetry in others.”

There is, already, an official Connecticut state poet laureate: Rennie McQuilkin is the sixth poet to hold the title. Tracy K. Smith just finished up her second term as the poet laureate for the United States.

But there are also 24 other poets laureate in Connecticut. Westport’s will be the 25th. There is also a Connecticut Coalition of Poets Laureate.

The deadline to apply to be Westport’s first-ever poet laureate is May 31. Send an email to waac@westportct.gov for more information.

There’s haven’t been too many applicants — yet — but Rudin isn’t concerned. She said she expects potential applicants are getting their applications in order.

“I am really excited by this,” she said. “We’re going to have some really interesting submissions.”

Jordan Fenster|Digital Products Editor

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