April 18, 2019 - Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, in partnership with Queens Public Library and Queens College, today announced the launch of an open call for applications for the next Queens Poet Laureate, a prestigious position charged with promoting a love of poetry and literacy throughout the borough. The announcement comes in time for National Poetry Month, a celebration of poetry that takes place each April.
Applicants for the unpaid position of Queens Poet Laureate must be published poets and residents of Queens. The winning candidate will be a talented writer who can also demonstrate that she or he has a compelling vision for the role.
“As the most diverse county in America, Queens seeks a Poet Laureate whose work strikes a universal chord,” said Melinda Katz. “The Poet Laureate will also demonstrate an abiding affection for Queens and an ability to convey that affection through inspiring, thought-provoking poetry.”
“Poetry is one of many languages we speak at Queens Public Library, and this partnership with the Borough President will help keep us fluent,” said Dennis M. Walcott, President and CEO of Queens Public Library. “It is a privilege for QPL to amplify the voice of the Queens Poet Laureate, and a gift for our customers. On behalf of QPL and our customers, I want to thank the outgoing poet laureate, Maria Lisella, for sharing her talent and passion for poetry across our library system.”
“Our hope is that the Queens Poet Laureate will be able to share the beauty and impact of Queens’ diversity of cultures, languages, and people, and that what they write and express will resound among Queens residents as well as with readers across the entire globe,” said Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, Ph.D., President of Queens College.
Applications for the Queens Poet Laureate position will be available at www.queensbp.org/poet and may be submitted beginning April 29, 2019. Applications must be submitted by 5:00 PM EDT on May 31, 2019 to be eligible for consideration.
The selection process is open to published poets who currently reside in Queens and have lived in Queens for at least the past two years. Applicants are expected to submit a writing sample of up to ten pages of their poetry, along with an essay of up to 500 words on why the applicant wants to be the next Queens Poet Laureate. Applicants must also submit a one to two-page résumé focused on their poetry-related work (such as the publications where their work has appeared, along with any public readings they have done and any grants, fellowships, awards or other poetry-related recognition they have received).
The next Queens Poet Laureate will be installed by Borough President Katz during a public ceremony at Queens Borough Hall. During his or her three-year term, the Queens Poet Laureate is charged with promoting an appreciation of poetry throughout the Borough of Queens. Examples of outreach include readings at public schools, libraries, community centers, parks and borough arts events.
The past Queens Poet Laureates are as follows: Maria Lisella (who served from 2015 to 2018), Paolo Javier (2010-2014), Julio Marzan (2007-2010), Ishle Yi Park (2004-2007), Hal Sirowitz (2001-2004) and Stephen Stepanchev (1997-2001).
About the Judges
Outgoing Queens Poet Laureate Maria Lisella and past Queens Poet Laureate Paolo Javier will serve on the five-member panel of judges who will review the submissions of those applying to be the next Queens Poet Laureate.
Also on the panel are Walt Whitman Award-winning poet Nicole Cooley, NYC Youth Poet Laureate Camryn Bruno, and Alice Quinn, Executive Director of the Poetry Society of America and an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of the Arts.
About the Queens Poet Laureate Administrative Committee
The process of selecting the Queens Poet Laureate is overseen by the Queens Poet Laureate Administrative Committee.
The members of the Administrative Committee are: Dr. Nicholas Alexiou, a professor at Queens College and a contemporary poet and artist; Andrew P. Jackson (Sekou Molefi Baako), the director emeritus of Queens Public Library’s Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center and a member of the Board of Trustees of Queens Public Library; and Maria Terrone, poetry editor of the journal Italian Americana and a frequent visiting poet in Queens and Manhattan public schools.
Applications for the position of Queens Poet Laureate will be pre-screened by the Administrative Committee, then reviewed by the five-member panel of expert judges. The judges will select three finalists who will meet in person with the five judges and the members of the Administrative Committee, who will collectively make the selection of the next Queens Poet Laureate.