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City of Worcester Announces Search for Next Poet Laureate

For Immediate Release: 9/14/2022 1:33 pm

WORCESTER – Acting City Manager Eric Batista, in collaboration with the City Council and Cultural Development Division, is pleased to announce the nomination process for the City’s next Poet Laureate.

The next Poet Laureate’s term will begin Jan. 1, 2023. The deadline to apply or nominate is Oct. 17. More on the City of Worcester Poets Laureate program, including guidelines and a link to the current application, can be found at WorcesterMA.gov/Cultural-Development/Poet.

“It has been such a great honor serve as Worcester’s Poet Laureate and be an ambassador of poetry, not just in the city but in our region,” said current Worcester Poet Laureate Juan Matos, whose term ends in December. Matos began his three-year term in January 2020. “It has been a privilege to share poetry with youth and colleagues,” he said, adding that the Poets Laureate program, “opens the door for new potential writers.”

All interested in applying or nominating a qualified candidate are encouraged to join a Poet Laureate Application Workshop Wednesday, Sept. 28, at 5:30 p.m. Attendees will have a walkthrough of the application process and can ask questions of Cultural Development staff and current Worcester Poet Laureate Juan Matos. Register for this Zoom workshop at: https://tinyurl.com/yzcyrmb6.

Along with the Worcester Youth Poet Laureate, the Worcester Poet Laureate serves as an official ambassador to Worcester’s historic and vibrant cultures of poetry and literary arts. Both Poets Laureate use their positions to share the transformative qualities of poetry and the written word, to celebrate and amplify the city’s great writers, and to help shape the next generation of literary enthusiasts.

In addition to sharing their own poetry and creating new works during their term, the Worcester Poet Laureate also serves as a mentor to the Worcester Youth Poet Laureate. The Youth Poet Laureate is a two-year term for poets under the age of 20 to develop their craft with guidance from an experienced local adviser.

Worcester Youth Poet Laureate Adael “Ace” Mejia’s term began in January 2022. Mejia says he feels that, “the time since I was appointed Youth Poet Laureate has been full of growth and development for me,” calling it “life-changing.” Mejia noted that he has been able to present his work to a wider audience, invited to create and perform for multiple influential people, and inspired and empowered to resume his education. “As a Youth Poet Laureate, I feel like a leader,” he said, and he’s hoping the next Poet Laureate will be community-driven and take a leadership role to drive change and advocate for the arts and youth in Worcester.

“In Worcester, we are very active in terms of art,” said Matos, who shared advice for his successor: “you have to be humble. It’s not about the person, it’s about the poetry. We [poets] come and go, this role is about giving of yourself to recognize and celebrate the poetry.”

Mejia pulled from his own experience in the Youth Poet Laureate selection process to offer advice to Poet Laureate applicants: “I thought I wasn’t going to be picked because of how honest my work was – little did I know people needed that honesty. People want to hear about what’s happening, what they feel, what’s really going on. If you’re an honest poet, now is the time to put that work on display.”

A Selection Committee will review Poet Laureate nominations and make a recommendation to the City’s Cultural Development Division, who will forward to the city manager’s office for consideration. Writers with deep connections to the cultural life of Worcester will be considered for the Poet Laureate appointment, and scored based on their existing body of work, previous accomplishments, and the quality of the proposed project. More information on selection and scoring criteria can be found at www.WorcesterMA.gov/poet.

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