Brooklyn, believe it or not, is looking for a poet laureate. Despite the fact that most people here wouldn’t know an iambic pentameter and blank verse from a cheeseburger and fries, it’s always nice to give poetry its fair share of cultural respect. “We know that with all our borough’s beauty, character — and characters — Brooklyn writers and poets never lack inspiration,” said Borough President Marty Markowitz (something of a wordsmith himself) who will select the person to fill the Top Bard spot.
Anyone shooting for the position of poet laureate has until November 24 to present five to ten pages of poetic work along with a two-page bio/ resume and a cover letter summarizing their plans to enrich Brooklyn with poetry. “Our new poet laureate should follow the expansive example of Ken Siegelman, now of blessed memory, by not only being a fine poet, but an enthusiastic ambassador of poetry and literacy.”
Siegelman (pictured above), who died last June, was indeed an outstanding poet and ambassador, campaigning tirelessly at schools and libraries for poetry’s better appreciation. An author of over 200 published poems, he taught social studies at Abraham Lincoln High School; he used his poetry to reach his students, many of whom couldn’t speak English. Upon being chosen for the post of poet laureate in 2002, he hosted Brooklyn Poetry Outreach, a collaborative effort with Markowitz and Barnes & Noble in Park Slope, which featured readings and discussions by aspiring poets. His last poem, “Stage Fright,” was remarkable.
“Park Slope poet Sharon Mesmer was picked by our readers [The Brooklyn Paper] to get the job of the borough’s official versifier, but she still has to pass Borough President Markowitz’s test.” [I wonder.]