It may be an understatement to say I was elated when I found out I was chosen as Lake County’s eleventh poet laureate. It’s an accomplishment I am most proud of and an honor I wholeheartedly respect. I had been a finalist for the 2018-2020 term and spent two years since building momentum in the literary community of Lake County via events, readings, and networking. Yet only days later after the great news that I was selected as our new poet laureate, the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact our community as officials began closing businesses and ordering our current Shelter-In-Place; makes for an odd time to move into a role for which a main focus is bringing poetry to the public.
One may be faced with a sense of discouragement however, when my laureateship was announced on social media, I began receiving such loving and encouraging messages from friends, family, and writers expressing their faith in my leadership in an uncertain time. Community persists. Yes, we need to stay physically distant from one another to protect our most vulnerable fellow humans and ourselves but that’s not to say we can’t remain close and connected through our creativity.
My mission as poet laureate is to continue building a community of poetry and other forms of creative writing, inviting others into it and supporting those already in it. I aim to bring poetry to all, no matter your experience, your background, or your marginalization. Poetry brings us together in the human experience, even in isolation, even in loneliness. So for the time being I will enter my reign of laureate by reaching poets from afar and communicating via Internet technology. I encourage locals who are either poets or fans of poetry (or any writers, really) to join the Lake County Poet Laureate Group on Facebook to stay informed on upcoming online events, connect with others, and share work.
One of the examples of reaching out and uplifting writers and readers, is the collaboration between myself and the wonderful editors at the Lake County Bloom to create this bi-weekly poetry column where we will invite guest contributors to share their writing stories and original work. This first column submission is to introduce myself as your laureate but stay tuned for a future column where I will share more about my origin story as a poet and more about my work.
This is a time when we are honoring the new. Every day is different: our routines have been altered, and we are faced with uncertainty, which can be difficult to say the least. But we can still write, we can still create and perhaps even without the pressure to finish a poem or write a new book but simply to help us get through this time; to document a time when we were unsure how our day-to-day will proceed, but when we still stayed connected.