State seek­ing poet lau­re­ate; only 4 have ever held ti­tle

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS -

Illi­nois is look­ing for a new poet lau­re­ate. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has launched a search com­mit­tee to fill the post, which has been va­cant since 2017. He said Illi­nois has been home to tal­ented po­ets in­clud­ing Carl Sand­burg, Gwen­dolyn Brooks and San­dra Cis­neros, and he wants to hear from “the next gen­er­a­tion of great writ­ers.

A poet lau­re­ate works to pro­mote the art of po­etry, na­tion­ally or at the state level. Illi­nois named its first poet lau­re­ate, Howard B. Austin, in 1936. Since then just three other po­ets have had the ti­tle. Sand­burg served from 1962 to 1967, while Brooks held the dis­tinc­tion from 1968 to 2000. Bradley Uni­ver­sity pro­fes­sor Kevin Stein was the most re­cent Illi­nois poet lau­re­ate, serv­ing from 2003 to 2017.

Over a dozen po­ets, writ­ers and artists have been named to the search com­mit­tee, which will be led by Nora Brooks Blakely, daugh­ter of Gwen­dolyn Brooks. The com­mit­tee will con­sider nom­i­na­tions through Aug. 15.

Nom­i­nees must be Illi­nois res­i­dents and have a pub­li­ca­tion his­tory of po­ems and/or books and a record of be­ing ac­tive in Illi­nois’ lit­er­acy com­mu­nity.

SUN-TIMES FILE

Kevin Stein was Illi­nois’ last poet lau­re­ate, serv­ing from 2003 to 2017.

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