January 12, 2021
Westchester County & ArtsWestchester Select B.K. Fischer of Sleepy Hollow as First-Ever Westchester Poet Laureate
(White Plains, NY) – Westchester County Executive George Latimer today partnered with ArtsWestchester to announce that Westchester County’s inaugural Poet Laureate will be B.K. Fischer of Sleepy Hollow. Fischer was one of 23 applicants for the position. A panel made up of poets, writers, and county representatives unanimously deemed her application to be the strongest. Fischer is slated to begin January 2021 and to serve a two-year term. There were four other finalists for the position: Robin Dellabough, Eric Odynocki, Loretta Oleck, and Rachel M. Simon, all exceptional poets whom the panel hopes the Poet Laureate-elect can engage.
Fischer is the author of five books of poetry —Ceive, Radioapocrypha, My Lover’s Discourse, St. Rage’s Vault, and Mutiny Gallery—as well as a critical study, Museum Mediations: Reframing Ekphrasis in Contemporary American Poetry. Her poems and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Paris Review, Kenyon Review, Boston Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, FIELD, Literary Mama, Modern Language Studies, Ninth Letter, and other journals.
Fischer has been a teacher of poetry for more than 25 years. She has taught students in universities, schools, prisons, and community centers, including The Hudson Valley Writers Center, the Taconic Correctional Facility, the Neuberger Museum, Teacher’s and Writer’s Collaborative, and Brenda Connor-Bey’s Learning to See series at the Greenburgh Library. Over the years, Fischer has been active with volunteer teaching and outreach in the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns and performances at Hudson Valley MoCA. Outside of Westchester County, she is an adjunct professor at Columbia University and previously spent six years as poetry editor at the Boston Review.
In her application, Fischer proposed several projects she would lead in 2021 if elected Poet Laureate. They included an event revolving around current experiences of “Sheltering in Place,” a project gathering poetry that speaks to the landscape of the Hudson Valley “Common Ground: Poetry between the Waterways,” and an event in conjunction with Westchester County’s Youth Poet Laureate that could be called “Mobilize: Multimedia Poetry and Performance for Justice,” drawing together writers and performers who mix spoken word, dance, music, visual art, and written language in dynamic new ways.
Fischer sees the role of Poet Laureate as one in which she “would strive to serve and amplify the diverse voices of our communities. [She] believes all poetry is dialogue—a conduit not only for expression but for collective energy, empathy, and connection.”
County Executive George Latimer said, “Fischer and the other finalists prove how much literary talent there is in the county. There was an impressive list of applications, and the panel was presented the arduous task of choosing just one laureate. However, everybody agreed that Fischer’s application was not only the most robust, but that she would be an advocate for passing the mic to the voices we don’t get to hear as often in Westchester.”
“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 certainly look forward hearing more of B.K. Fischer’s poetry and to working with B.K. Fischer on her poetry projects in Westchester County.”
The post’s honorarium has increased from $1,250 per year to $2,500 per year thanks to a match by a generous ArtsWestchester Board member. To get more arts news and arts events in your in-box, simply go to artsw.org/subscribe
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
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