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Do You Have What It Takes To Be The City's Next Poet Laureate?

Chris Eudaily
TPR News
San Antonio's 2013 Poet Laureate Carmen Tafolla in the TPR studios.

The city of San Antonio is looking for its top wordsmith. The pay isn’t great, but according to Dr. Carmen Tafolla, the gig is.

"It is a wonderful, wonderful experience," said Tafolla, San Antonio's current poet laureate whose reign is nearing the end. She said she thinks highly of the city that allowed her the honor to represent it.

"We are very, very fortunate to be in a city that recognizes the power of poetry, the power of words, and its ownership by the community," Tafolla said.

But now the city needs a new person to fill the rolw, and that’s the responsibility of Gemini Ink, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help people create and share the human story.

"The Poet Laureate is supposed to be kind of an ambassador for poetry and also the arts in general," said Gemini Ink’s Executive Director Shiela Black. "[They are] often charged with promoting literacy in the community."

The poet laureate position is a two year term with occasional appearances, performances and challenges. You have to be an accomplished, published poet who’s lived here at least three years. And you can’t nominate yourself!

"I would heartily recommend that experience to any mature poet that is ready to give back to the community," Tafolla said.

I noted to Ms. Tafolla that some people are probably reading this who just don’t get poetry. What are they missing? I asked her. She had a simple answer.

"If you don’t get poetry, it may be that you just haven’t heard the right poem yet," Tafolla said.

Black spoke of the power of the poem:

"That’s sort of what good poetry does," she said. "It makes language alive, and therefore it makes life more alive. It’s like a vitamin for the experience of living."

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii