Philip Levine To Be New US Poet Laureate

Today (or rather yesterday) it was announced that Philip Levine is going to be the 18th US Poet Laureate. I’m very excited about this because Levine is a unique, distinctly American feeling poet. He has a blue-collar down to earth tone to his poetry that I really admire.

However, something I have always been curious about is what exactly the Poet Laureate is. What does the position entail?

Well, in the USA there has been the position of Poet Laureate since 1937 (though it had a different name then) the Librarian of Congress consults with past Laureates, the current Laureate and prominent poetry critics to decide on who to appoint. The appointment runs from May to October cause everyone knows that poets don’t work in the summer.

The Laureate receives a $35,000 annual salary and primarily runs a series of lectures, readings, and introductions at the Library of Congress. The USA Poet Laureate is not required to write for state or federal events but still write poems after nationwide events. (For example, Billy Collins’ poem “The Names” written in dedication to the victims and survivors of the September 11 attacks) This is so that the Poet Laureate can continue to pursue other ventures while serving as the Laureate.

The Poet Laureate also has the responsibility of promoting poetry. That is the main reason I am so excited about Levine taking on this role. I think he will present some amazing ideas about making poetry accessible to everyone. He has such a blue collar working man appreciation for the world that I hope he brings that to the position and to the US.

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