Norwalk’s Next Poet Laureate Search

On Thursday, October 25, Mayor Harry W. Rilling announced the search has begun for Norwalk’s next Poet Laureate.

All nominees must submit a completed application form by December 31, 2018. Interested poets can self-nominate or be nominated by others. A Search & Review Committee, appointed by the Arts Commission and the Library Board, with input from the current Poet Laureate, will review all nominations on or before March 1, 2019. The next Poet Laureate will be introduced to the city by Mayor Rilling in April 2019.
Click for complete details and application form.

“The mission of Norwalk’s Poet Laureate Program is to communicate the value of poetry to our community. The Poet Laureate will serve as an ambassador of the community’s vibrant artistic and literary life, promoting the literary community and celebrating the written word. I look forward to seeing all of the great applications for this valuable position,” said Mayor Rilling.

Mayor Rilling first presented the idea of a Poet Laureate to the Norwalk Arts Commission in 2016. Arts Commission Chair Susan Wallerstein thought it was natural for both the Arts Commission and the Norwalk Public Library to take the lead. “The program’s objectives are to promote poetry as a form of communication having value in the everyday life of Norwalk residents, to inspire an emerging generation of critical thinkers and writers, and to encourage the reading and writing of literature and poetry that has deep roots among people of all ages and cultures,” Wallerstein said. 

Alex Knopp, President of the Library Board of Trustees, is also an enthusiastic supporter. “Every April we celebrate National Poetry Month with readings of favorite poems by Norwalk citizens; it is always a popular and inspiring month,” said Knopp. 

The term of service of the Norwalk Poet Laureate is one year. It is an honorary position and carries no stipend. To be considered, a nominee must be a poet and a resident of Norwalk, and available and willing to collaborate with other town poets to develop and present poetry-related activities. Currently serving as Norwalk’s Poet Laureate is Laurel S. Peterson, who will be ending a three-year term in 2019. 

Peterson has held programs and workshops in City Hall, Artist's Market, and in the library. She also helped coordinate the annual Norwalk Lit Crawl, and she was instrumental in bringing National Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith to Norwalk in May. Peterson has instituted the “Poets in Conversation” series, and has written poems for Oyster Shell Park, and “Sanctuary” for the traffic graphic box outside of the main library. 

“Laurel has been outstanding. She has done more than we ever expected,” said Norwalk Public Library Director Christine Bradley. 

All nominees must submit a completed application form by December 31, 2018. Interested poets can self-nominate or be nominated by others. A Search & Review Committee, appointed by the Arts Commission and the Library Board, with input from the current Poet Laureate, will review all nominations on or before March 1, 2019. The next Poet Laureate will be introduced to the city by Mayor Rilling in April 2019.