Residents of Seattle are invited to participate in electing the 2008–2009 Poet Populist by casting their vote online at www.poetpopulist.org starting Monday September 22–Tuesday November 4, 2008. This year, 13 poets have been nominated, and the public can learn about each poet at the Poet Populist web site before casting a vote. See below for list of nominees.
Now in its ninth election, the Poet Populist program is unlike poet laureate programs, for which dignitaries or government officials select a poet. Instead, Seattle conducts a city-wide popular vote to elect the poet of the people, the Poet Populist. This program is meant to engage the entire city of Seattle and to raise awareness of the crucial role that literary arts plays in public discourse.
To that end, the Poet Populist program has developed a new partnership with Seattle Arts & Lectures to offer interactive poetry curriculum to Seattle public high schools. The curriculum teaches students about the roots of democracy and the role that literary arts and articulate leadership has played in our nation’s history. It also gives students a chance to work with and meet community-minded poets.
The four finalists with the highest votes will be invited to read at the Richard Hugo House on November 14, where the winner will be announced and awarded a cash prize of $500. The elected poet serves a one year term, maintains a schedule of public readings and writes one original poem commissioned to be included in the City’s archives. The 2007-2008 Poet Populist was Cody Walker.
Nominating Organizations and the Nominees
Any group that supports or promotes literary arts in Seattle was eligible to nominate a poet; poets must be residents of Seattle.