When I asked a city alderman recently about the possibility of the council considering having a poet laureate like Cambridge and Boston are presently pondering he laughed, stating: “So that’s the latest trend, huh?” So I decided to send out a call for comments from Somerville residents, poets, etc…to see what they think of the idea: Here is what I got:
C.D. Collins (Poet/Vocalist): “We should have one. It should be an annual award.”
Bert Stern (Off the Grid Press) “I think that Somerville poetry speaks clearly and humanely, and with a notion of folk poetry that has a long lineage. Somerville is witty and has guts, and is somewhat anti- Cambridge. I see it as a position of public responsibility. A laureate should write occasional poems, celebrate commissions, like the English poet/laureate, who writes poems for coronations, etc…
Gloria Mindock (Cervena Barva Press): “Somerville is such a rich community with so many artists and writers living here. It would be a great idea to have one.
So many writers in Somerville have remarkable qualifications if one must choose the poet laureate based on that. Having some sort of guidelines is good because it closes the door to “bad writing” or a writer who hasn’t developed good writing skills. The poet laureate should be community minded. All the books and publications in the world does not mean anything if you don’t care about the artistic scene in Somerville. “
Afaa Michael Weaver (Simmons College): “So many? Why not just one of Massachusetts? Too many and it gets diluted.”
Ian Thal (Poet/Mime/Performer): “The question should be: ‘Would having a poet laureate serve Somerville in a manner that the Somerville Arts Council does not already?’ The Somerville Arts Council does a better job than most cities in Massachusetts supporting the arts/artists (certainly better than Boston). The laureate position should add something to what is already there.”
Tam Lin Neville (author of “Journey Cake”): Of course we should have a poet/laureate. I am sure we have more poets here than Boston and Cambridge put together. My pick would be someone who combines the quality of a good poet—and someone with the proper community spirit.”