Becoming Poet Laureate

When I wrote the poems I ended up including in my collection Rustle, I never intended to publish them. I actually began writing poetry because I bought this really cute and insanely dainty little notebook at Versailles with Marie Antoinette on the cover. I thought, “This is a book that a lady of leisure would write her little poems in.” So I started messing around with different forms like ballads and villanelles.

Let them eat POETRY…

When the book was full, I picked my favorites and self-published on lulu. Fast forward several years, and I noticed something interesting on the city website for Mt. Vernon, my hometown. Apparently, Mount Vernon, Iowa, is the smallest city in the country to have its own Poet Laureate. And applications for the next PL were open!

I never considered myself much of a poet. I’m definitely more of a fiction writer. But on the application, I saw that as PL I would be able to host my own events and do community outreach. Now that was something I had experience with. As the faculty adviser for Lisbon’s chapter of the National Honor Society, I have found that organizing community events is extremely satisfying. Plus, I mean, I was okay at poetry. I thought, eh, I’ll go for it. Why not?

The next thing I knew I was in a zoom meeting applying for the job, and I got it! Here’s the press release.

So far I’ve had a couple of events, including a community poetry night where folks came to read us their favorite poems and explain why they chose them. I’m already getting way ahead of myself thinking of new experiences for the community. The next one I want to do is a Christmas event called “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” where people come to share “scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long long ago…”

My proudest achievement in this post has been writing and delivering a poem for our town’s Memorial Day celebration. You can read it for free here.

I’m very excited to leak some info — I’m collaborating with local photographer Bob Campagna on a poetry/photo book called “Final Elegance” that’ll be out sometime in spring of 2022.

And think, none of this would have happened without that totes adorbs little notebook!