Skip to main content

Will Ohio Have a Poet Laureate? (by Steve Abbott)

Steve Abbott testifying on behalf of S.B. 84 on May 21st
in Columbus [photo by Michael Salinger]

BIG news for poetry in Ohio: the State Senate is considering legislation that would create the post of Ohio Poet Laureate.

The proposed law, Senate Bill 84 (SB 84), was introduced by Senator Eric Kearney, D-Cincinnati, (9th District). Under provision of the bill, the Ohio Arts Council would administer the selection process and provide recommendations to the Governor, who would make the final selection.
Most other states have already established Poet Laureate posts. Ohio neighbors West Virginia and Indiana have two of the more successful programs.

OPA Vice-President Chuck Salmons and Common Threads Editor Steve Abbott met with Senator Kearney on April 9 to discuss the bill, offering suggestions that OPA believes will strengthen it. These included shortening the term as Poet Laureate from four years to two and modifying language defining the qualifications for the post.

Most state Poets Laureate serve two-year terms. OPA also recommended to Senator Kearney that anyone nominated to be state Poet Laureate should have significant peer-reviewed publications that go beyond self-publications and vanity presses. Further, OPA suggested that the requirement of providing four annual readings include the stipulation that readings include both rural and urban counties to ensure that all Ohio residents have the opportunity to attend readings by the state Poet Laureate.

SB 84 is significant and long-overdue legislation, and OPA members, our audiences, and our friends can assure its passage. Legislation becomes law when constituents push their elected representatives to approve it. The most effective way to do that is direct contact.

Legislators weigh constituent contact using a simple scale: phone calls are at the bottom, e-mails come next, and letters are golden. So choose how effective you hope to be and contact your state senator and representative. Contact information is available at www.ohiosenate.gov or www.ohiohouse.gov. A short communication identifying yourself as an OPA member and urging your legislator’s support for SB 84 and why it’s important will do the job. Tell your friends to get on board, too. Also, please cc Sen. Kearney on all email or postal letters.

We know this matters, let’s make it happen. Do it NOW.


[JUNE 5th UPDATE:  The Ohio Senate passed S.B. 84, and it has now moved on to the Ohio House for consideration.  So thank your state senator if he or she supported the bill.  And now it's time to write to your state representative.]

Comments

  1. Good news from Columbus today! Senate Bill 84, the Ohio Poet Laureate Bill, passed the Senate floor today. Now it will move to the House for consideration.

    If you live in Ohio, this is a good time to write to your state representative and let her/him know you support S.B. 84. If you don't know who your representative is, you can find out here: http://www.ohiohouse.gov/

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Casting a Line for Susan Glassmeyer's 'Invisible Fish'

by Chuck Salmons If you haven’t heard by now, OPA member and Cincinnati poet Susan Glassmeyer is the winner the Ohio Poetry Day Association’s 2018 Poet of the Year award, for her first full-length collection, Invisible Fish  (Dos Madres Press, 2018). On the heels of her winning, I corresponded with her to find out more about the collection and her writing process.  CS: First of all, congratulations on the award! Having read Invisible Fish, I know this is an honor that is well-deserved. How does it feel to have your name among past winners such as Mary Oliver, David Baker, and David Citino? SG: I was truly surprised to win this award, Chuck. I did some research after the fact and learned about the history of the award. What an honor to be part of this venerable Ohio poet lineage! I already own a few of the books on the list, not realizing the authors had previously won the award. And although I have many of Mary Oliver’s books, Twelve Moons (winner in 1980) was not among

Ohio Poetry Day Association names 2021 Poet of the Year and Contest Winners

The Ohio Poetry Day Association (OPDA) has selected Quartez Harris as its Ohio Poet of the Year for 2021. Harris was selected for his book of poems, We Made It to School Alive (Twelve Arts Press, 2020). Residing in Cleveland, Ohio, Harris is a second-grade teacher at Michael R. White Elementary School. We Made It to School Alive, his second collection of poetry, was inspired by his work as a teacher and gives voice to the experiences of the children he works with every day who deal with issues of gun violence, poverty, educational challenges, and more. Harris’ first book, N othing, But Skin,  was published in 2014 by Writing Knights Press. He is the first recipient of the Barbara Smith Writer-In-Resident at Twelve Literary Arts and a 2020 Baldwin House Fellow. He has been featured in the Plain Dealer, IdeaStream, and City Club of Cleveland, and recently signed on to be represented by Mckinnon Literary Agency. His works in progress are a young-adult novel and picture book biography. 

Ohio Poetry Day 2022 Contests Now Open!

The annual Ohio Poetry Day Association contests have been announced.  May 15, 2022, is the deadline (postmark) for more than twenty contests, including a “Welcome Aboard” category for first-time submitters and an art category to design the cover art for the 2022 Best of Ohio Poetry Day anthology, published later this year. Below is a copy of the submission form, which provides full contest information.  Ohio Poetry Day 2022 will take place in October. Stay up to date on OPD information, including the event date, location, and agenda, by getting your name and address on the OPD mailing list. To do so, contact: Amy Jo Zook 3520 State Route 56 Mechanicsburg, OH 43044 Checks for all contest fees and purchases should be made payable to: Ohio Poetry Day . For questions, call (937) 834-2666. Click and download the images below to view them at full size.