Are You Gulfport’s Next Poet Laureate?

Submissions began September 26 in the search for Gulfport’s third poet laureate. According to Jillian Reed, chair of the Poet Laureate Committee of the Friends of the Gulfport Library, this time around, the poet laureate position will be extended to three years instead of one as in previous years.

The Friends of the Gulfport Library and the Poet Laureate Committee seek a candidate who will raise the community’s consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry and literature,  and who will further enhance the profile of poets and poetry in the city and beyond. In addition, the poet laureate is expected to bring poetry to segments of Gulfport’s community that may have less access or exposure to poetry, such as youth, schools and seniors. The position-holder should not only educate within the community, but build on the spirit that brings the community together.

Current Poet Laureate Sam Henderson reads his poetry at the Gulfport Library in February of this year.

The next poet laureate will succeed inaugural Poet Laureate Peter Hargitai and current Poet Laureate Sam Henderson – who each served in the position for one year – providing instructive workshops and events that were well-received by the community.

“The most illuminating piece of my poet laureate experience has been the discovery of how many lovers of literature and writing live among us, disguised as regular people, and that they possess a great deal of passion, insight and talent,” says Henderson. “If you are a Gulfport writer, I cannot encourage you strongly enough to submit your work and be part of this program.”

The position of poet laureate is an honorary position and receives no payment or stipend. Applicants need not be published. To be eligible, applicants must be at least 18 years of age, have been a resident of Gulfport for at least two years from the date of nomination and reside in the state for at least eight months of the year.

Gulfport’s poet laureate may be asked to perform duties throughout his or her appointment such as give public readings, compose poems for ceremonial occasions, pursue a major literary project with an emphasis on outreach and education such as workshops and school visits, be involved in Gulfport festivals or events, participate in civic and library functions as needed and report annually on poetry-related activities to the Poet Laureate Committee.

Applicants should submit the application form, three poetic works and a writing of up to one page describing the applicant’s vision for the Poet Laureate Program. Submissions should be emailed to gptpoetlaureate@gmail.com by the deadline date of November 3, 2017. The applicant selected by the Poet Laureate Committee will be announced at the January 2, 2018 Gulfport City Council meeting. A book of poetry submissions will be created prior to the announcement. Application forms and more information can be found on the library’s website at mygulfport.us/gpl.

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