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Cahnmann-Taylor sets the stage for Athens’ first Poet Laureate

Lauren Leathers

January 28, 2021

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Melisa “Misha” Cahnmann-Taylor, a professor in the department of language and literacy education, will chair a selection committee that will nominate Athens-Clarke County’s first Poet Laureate. The city’s Poet Laureate will serve a two-year term lasting April 2021-2023.

Melisa “Misha” Cahnmann-Taylor

The Poet Laureate, funded and administered by the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission (ACAC), is an honorary position created by a resolution passed by the city council that provides the mayor the authority to appoint a citizen of the city as Poet Laureate. The Poet Laureate will bring poetry to areas of the community that have less access or exposure to poetry including senior citizens, youth, schools and more.

“Poet Laureates offer workshops, read at public events and raise the prestige of the art form for the town,” she said. “This is a missing piece that can make Athens more culturally rich.”

Cahnmann-Taylor, an ACAC board member for three years, will create the selection rubric, facilitate meetings, and have a single vote among the eight-person selection committee. The selected Poet Laureate will receive a $2,000 stipend over the two-year term and an additional $1,500 in funding to use for events, activities, and duties.

Currently, every state in the U.S. has a Poet Laureate. According to the New York Times, there is a growing number of cities, counties and communities across the nation that have named a Poet Laureate. These local wordsmiths provide poetry to chronicle the daily events of local life.

An information session will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 16 and the application deadline is Tuesday, March 2.