B. K. Fischer, Westchester’s inaugural Poet Laureate, joins 21 others who will each receive a $50,000 grant from the Academy of American Poets (AAP) for “positive contributions to their communities.” A combined total of $1.1 million will support each of the awardees’ proposed public poetry programs through the APP’s Poets Laureate Fellowship program. In addition, a total of $72,200 will be awarded to eight local nonprofit organizations that have agreed to assist the upcoming projects. For Fischer, that supporting organization is ArtsWestchester.
Fischer’s awarded project is an outdoor writing series called “Floodwaters Workshops.” The programs, which are designed for high school students – particularly youth in underserved communities and those who identify as LGBTQ+ – will take place at different sites of flooding and flood risk in Westchester County. Locations will include local city parks, littered beaches, seawalls and damaged docks, and eroded trails.
In a statement, the Academy explained the significance of recognizing its Fellows: “Poets laureate at state and local levels promote the art of poetry and the position is an important way to recognize the place and possibilities that poets and poetry have in civic life, including in helping communities to address issues of importance.”
Fischer’s aim is to implement poetry as a facilitator for local conversation about climate, conservation and social injustice. She explains: “Young people today are facing the climate future with particular anxiety and justifiable anger about the world that’s being left to them. These workshops aim to amplify youth voices and let their perspectives be heard.”
To finalize the program, a short documentary will be produced. The film will depict the program’s progression and the students’ experiences. The film, according to Fischer, will be a way to bring the poems and ideas to an even wider audience.
Those who are interested in writing creatively about climate can reach out to Poet Laureate B.K. Fischer about how to participate in an eco-writing workshop this fall: firstname.lastname@example.org. Students of all ages and adults are welcome.
A version of this article first appeared in the September 2022 issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.