Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Somerville Poet Laureate--It is finally here!‏

The Somerville Poet Laureate--It is finally here!

Harris Gardner (Tapestry of Voices) and myself (Doug Holder--Ibbetson Street Press) met with Gregory Jenkins,( The Director of the Somerville Arts Council), at the now defunct Sherman Cafe in Union Square this summer to discuss the prospects of getting a Somerville Poet Laureate. I have been pushing this for years, but to no avail. There were either vacant promises from local pols, the eye-rolling, the patronizing hand shake--slippery as a snake--well you know the drill. Jenkins was on board with the idea; so then we met with the mayor and he thought it was a good idea as well. Now we have an official announcement, and information  about how to apply. We are forming a selection committee, so far it is Greg Jenkins, Doug Holder, Bert Stern, Harris Gardner, Linda Conte, Charles Coe, Ifeanyi Menkiti and others. So if you are a fine poet, community-minded, have a track record of promoting poetry, and have a strong vision for your possible tenure--apply!

Somerville Poet Laureate
Application and Overview

Statement of Purpose
The City of Somerville announces the creation of a Poet Laureate for Somerville.   The City views the position as a means to further enhance the profile of poets and poetry in the city and beyond.  The Poet Laureate is expected to bring poetry to segments of Somerville's community that have less access or exposure to poetry: senior citizens, youth, schools and communities.  The Poet Laureate will be a person of vision with the ability to enact his/her vision.

The Poet Laureate will serve for a two-year term and will be provided an honorarium of $2,000 per year.  A contract will be derived with expectations detailed as to the public benefit required of the position, which will be jointly determined with the final applicant and review committee.    The expectation is that the position will support and expand poetry in the city.  The Somerville Arts Council/City of Somerville will support the Laureate in networking within the community but actual work must be accomplished by the chosen candidate. 

How to apply
Deadline:   Postmarked by November 17, 2014

Candidates for Somerville Poet Laureate must provide the following: 

  • One page contact info sheet with name, address, phone number, email, website (if applicable)  
  • Proof of residence demonstrated by sending a copy of a utility bill, lease, phone bill.  (a jpg image of a current bill or statement is fine if emailing application, or a photocopy of statement if mailing application)
  • Curriculum Vitae / Poetry-Related Bio  
  • Up to 20 pages of original poetry
  • One to three-page vision statement with details as to how you will implement the public benefit component. 

How to submit 

  1. Either email PDFs of the above items to Gregory Jenkins at     with Poet Laureate in the subject header:
  2. Or mail the following documents to:   Somerville Poet Laureate, Somerville Arts Council, 50 Evergreen Ave., Somerville, MA  02145  

Selection Process for Poet Laureate of Somerville

A committee, comprised of local poets, teachers, and arts administrators, will review the applications based on the evaluation criteria and select no fewer than three and no more than six applications to be finalists.  Finalists will be interviewed in December with the expectation that they will further refine their proposed vision and public component for the position.  The interview process will also provide the selection committee the ability to inquire more of the candidate.  Based on the four criteria below, the committee will select a final candidate and alternate who will be presented to Mayor Joseph Curtatone for his approval.

 Evaluation Process for Poet Laureate Nomination

The Poet Laureate will be reviewed and chosen on the basis of the four criteria (percentage weights included):

·         Excellence in craftsmanship, as demonstrated by submitted original poems  (25%)
·         Providing a vision for the position. How will you work with the community, schools, nonprofit or municipal arts and service departments.   Please convey your vision for the position with details of outreach and collaborations.   (25%)
·         Professional achievement in the field of poetry. Merit shall be proven by publication credits either in small press or large press publications; at least one collection, full size or chapbook published by a small press or large press; also, awards or recognition such as grants, fellowships, prizes, and/or other recognition. (25%)
·         A history of actively promulgating the visibility of poetry in Somerville’s neighborhoods and literary communities through readings, publications, promotion of events, public presentations  and/or workshops and other types of teaching and literary community involvement. (25%)

City of Somerville
Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone

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