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County Executive George Latimer Announces Call for 2021 Poet Laureate for Westchester County in Partnership with ArtsWestchester

October 27, 2020

Contact: Ernie Garcia, 914-844-3780
[email protected]


County Executive George Latimer Announces call for 2021 poet laureate for Westchester County In Partnership with ArtsWestchester

(White Plains, NY) – Westchester County Executive George Latimer today joined in partnership with ArtsWestchester to announce a competitive call for an inaugural Poet Laureate position for Westchester County for the 2021-2022 term.  Westchester’s Poet Laureate candidate will be an advocate for poetry and the literary arts, have significant personal poetic work and will encourage the community to engage with poetry by creating and leading activities that inspire writing and poetry performances among all age groups while initiating a dialogue between local poets, cultural organizations, and community institutions.

While the first-ever holder of a poet laureate position dates to the 13th century, America`s first poet laureate was Robert Frost who was officially appointed in 1961. Today, the position is not restricted to the national level: almost all 50 states have a poet laureate, as do many counties, cities and other jurisdictions. Westchester County feels it is a perfect time to join other counties around the state in creating a poet laureate position at the local level.

County Executive George Latimer explains, “When we think about memorializing a time, a place, a struggle or an occasion, we turn to one of the highest forms of expression—poetry.  It is this language in the hands of a Poet Laureate that we can reframe and restate the ideals we hold true.”

“Support for our creatives is more important than ever during this pandemic, explains Janet T. Langsam, CEO of ArtsWestchester.  She continues, “The concept of a Poet Laureate is an affirmation that in our present-day society words matter and that it is important that these words be truthful, poetic and emblematic of our principles and our aspirations. We look to a Poet Laureate to express for us the things we might like to say ourselves, if only we had the poetic license.”

Pamela Hart, writer-in-residence at the Katonah Museum of Art, said, “The County has such a vibrant literary arts community with some amazing poets doing important things for their Westchester communities. The Hudson Valley Writers Center. The Katonah Poetry Series. And others. Of course, there is the New York State Poet Laureate Alicia Ostriker. But some counties, including Dutchess and Rockland, have their own. I think the position is a great way to acknowledge the impact of literature on our lives and culture. Poets laureates also initiate projects that can benefit underserved communities.”

The Poet Laureate program is managed as a partnership between ArtsWestchester and the Westchester County’s Executive’s office.

How do poets apply?  The Open Call for applications for the 2021-2022 Poet Laureate is now active, with a deadline of November 16, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. The Poet Laureate’s two-year term is set to begin January 1, 2021 and continue through to December 31st, 2022.

Applications are ONLY accepted through ArtsWestchester’s grant site through: submittable.

Applicants must be 25 years of age or older, must have resided in Westchester County for two years prior to application, during the time of application, and for the duration of the appointment, and must have past work that is of high artistic quality (demonstrated by journal publications, chapbooks, books, audio or video). Full eligibility requirements and terms are here.

Eligible applications will be reviewed by a panel of judges, including ArtsWestchester staff or Board, County representatives, and well-regarded poets from the region. The top candidates will be interviewed before a final selection is made and announced by the County.

The selected Poet Laureate will serve a two-year term and receive an honorarium of $1,250 per year to fulfill the post’s duties. Additional funds of up to $500 will be available for materials and other approved costs associated with the community engagement programs the Poet Laureate facilitates.

About Westchester County:  Westchester County, located in the heart of the historic Hudson Valley, covers 500 square miles and has a population of just under a million.  Originally home to Native Americans, who were members of the Lenape tribe, it is today a rich mix of many cultures and landscapes.  The County is a blend of bustling cities, quaint villages and picturesque towns as well as open spaces and a network of beautiful parks. Westchester is made up of 6 cities, 19 towns and 20 villages.  Westchester County is known for top-notch public schools, and a high quality of life.  The County is also an intellectual capital, boasting a highly educated workforce, competitive colleges and universities, Fortune 500 companies, world changing non-profits, and cutting-edge research centers.  Westchester is led by County Executive George Latimer, who took office in January 2018 as the ninth County Executive. Using inclusion and openness as a foreground, Latimer is fighting to make Westchester a destination for all people to live, work and enjoy. Learn more about Westchester County by visiting www.westchestergov.com

About ArtsWestchester:  For more than 50 years ArtsWestchester has been the community’s connection to the arts. Founded in 1965, it is the largest private not-for-profit arts council in New York State. Its mission is to provide leadership vision and support to ensure the availability accessibility and diversity of the arts. ArtsWestchester provides programs and services that enrich the lives of everyone in Westchester County. ArtsWestchester helps fund concerts, exhibitions and plays through grants; brings artists into schools and community centers; advocates for the arts; and builds audiences through diverse marketing initiatives. In 1998, ArtsWestchester purchased the nine-story neo-classical bank building at 31 Mamaroneck Avenue which has since been transformed into a multi-use resource for artists, cultural organizations and the community. A two-story gallery is located on the first floor of ArtsWestchester’s historic building on Mamaroneck Avenue. artsw.org