L.A. seeks a poet laureate

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(CNS) – Los Angeles will name its first poet laureate later this year, city leaders announced today. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and City Councilman Richard Alarcon announced the city’s first-ever program to name a Poet Laureate to be an ambassador for the city’s literary culture and the value of poetry.

“In a city that prides itself on its creativity and dedication to a vital and thriving arts community, Los Angeles is pleased to add this new program to our portfolio of arts initiatives citywide,” Villaraigosa said in a statement.

The mayor urged Angelenos to nominate noteworthy poets or themselves by Oct. 10. The Los Angeles Poet Laureate will be named by the end of October. Villaraigosa selected a task force to oversee the selection process and to make recommendations to the Department of Cultural Affairs and the mayor’s office for a final decision.

The Los Angeles poet laureate must have strong ties to the city and have earned wide recognition in the professional writing world, according to the mayor’s office.

Dana Gioia, a poetry professor at the University of Southern California and former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, will chair the selection task force. Gioia called the new honorific “a fitting symbol for the power of the language and the imagination in our remarkable community.”

Other members of the selection task force include poets, writers, and professors Amy Uyematsu, Carolyn See, Douglas Kearney, Kate Gale and William Archila.

Alarcon, who chairs the City Council’s Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee said the Poet Laureate will “help eloquently share the best of our city with the rest of the world.”

The guidelines and nomination instructions are at www.culturela.org.

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