LANSING – State Rep. Sarah Roberts (D-St. Clair Shores) has introduced bipartisan legislation allowing for the creation of the office of Michigan poet laureate.
“Michigan has a rich literary tradition, including many poets who are recognized internationally. We should be proud of our poets, and I think we should create the office of Michigan poet laureate so that we can read, share and appreciate the poetry of Michigan poets,” said Roberts. “This bill isn’t to downplay the very serious challenges we are facing as a state, like fixing our roads, but we are more than that, and I think it is time to honor a state poet.”
House Bill 4763 creates the office of the state poet laureate allowing the governor to appoint a person to that position who would serve for the duration of the appointing governor’s term. The poet laureate would not be compensated except for actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of duties as assigned by the governor.
According to the Library of Congress, Michigan, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico and Pennsylvania do not have a state poet laureate. Michigan had one poet laureate, Edgar A. Guest, who held the title from 1952 until his death in 1959. He was appointed to the office through a Senate Concurrent Resolution.
“Republican legislators have introduced this bill in the past, and I am pleased that many of my Republican colleagues joined me by co-sponsoring my bill this year,” said Roberts. “A poet laureate’s task is to share poetry with all the people of their state and open up a new experience for many who may have never read poetry outside of a classroom. Now it’s time to celebrate the written word in the same fashion by creating an official Michigan poet laureate to spread poetry and encourage other Michigan poets to share their work as well.”