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RI State Poet sought: Application deadline August 21

RI is seeking a new state poet, often informally known as the “poet laureate,” for a five-year term beginning January 2024. The role carries an honorarium of $1,000 annually. Applications close at 11:59pm on August 21, 2023, and the web portal will strictly enforce this deadline.

Established by law in 1987, the position is open to “practicing poets” who are domiciled in RI and plan to remain so through the end of the term in January 2029, are at least 18 years old, and are not currently enrolled in an arts degree-seeking program or in high school. For this purpose, a “practicing poet” is defined as a person who “intentionally creates or practices poetry that: has sought learning or training in the artistic field from any source, not necessarily in formal academic institutions; is committed to devoting significant time to artistic activity, as is possible financially; is or is working towards earning some portion of their income from their art.”

Tina Cane. Photo credit: Mary Beth Meehan

The outgoing state poet is Tina Cane who was appointed in 2016. Previous state poets are Michael Harper (1988-1994), the late C.D. Wright (1994-1999), Thomas Chandler (1999-2006), Lisa Starr (2007-2012), and Rick Benjamin (2013-2015).

“Through leadership and the power of poetry, our state’s poet provides inspiration to all Rhode Islanders in addition to being an important literary and educational resource,” said Governor Daniel McKee in a statement. “Thank you to Tina Cane for her service to Rhode Island and thank you to the State’s Arts Council for taking charge of the nomination process. I look forward to reviewing the nominees.”

“We expect to provide a diverse and strong field of recommendations to the Governor,” said Lynne McCormack, Executive Director of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) said in a statement. “We are looking for a state poet who will build appreciation of and participation in poetry and literary activities among the state’s residents.”

Applicants are asked to submit a resume or CV, a one-page statement explaining your goals and interest, a letter of nomination from a RI resident speaking to your connection with the state, work samples, and optionally a link to a web page. A peer review panel from RISCA will forward five finalists to the governor, who will make the final choice. Staff members and council members of RISCA, and their immediate families, are ineligible. US citizens and non-citizens who have a taxpayer identification number (TIN), including refugees, immigrants, and temporary residents, are eligible.

Details of the position are at Questions can be directed to Mollie Flanagan, director of the Individual Artists Program, 401-222-3881.