Thursday, 07 July 2022 15:34

City Considering Poet Laureate of Saratoga Springs

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Springs is considering initiating a civic position recognizing an exceptional local poet to serve as Poet Laureate of Saratoga Springs. 

“Why should we have one in Saratoga Springs? Well, why shouldn’t we,” city resident and past NY Library Association President Rachel Baum explained during a presentation to the City Council July 5.   

“We’re not just health, history and horses. We have Yaddo. We have SPAC School of the Arts. For 20 years we have had an Open Mic for Poets at Caffe Lena, Saratoga Reads, the (NYS) Summer Writers’ Institute.” Baum said, stressing the financial benefit to local businesses in cities hosting art-related events. 

The title of Poet Laureate was first granted in England in the 17th century for poetic excellence, and its holder a salaried member of the British royal household. The title stems from tradition dating to the earliest Greek and Roman times, when achievement was honored with a crown of laurel, a tree sacred to Apollo, patron of poets, according to Britannica. 


In the U.S., a Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress was initiated in the mid-1930s. The title of the position officially changed to Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry in 1985. The U.S. poet laureate, appointed annually by the Librarian of Congress, receives a $35,000 annual stipend plus $5,000 for travel expenses, all of which is funded by a private gift and not the U.S. government. Some poets previously appointed to the posts include Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Pinsky, William Carlos Williams, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Robert Frost.   

Locally, representatives from local organizations would form a committee this summer and later in the year evaluate nominations for the title. The tentative suggested deadlines are the Posting of the Nomination Form by Aug.15 and a deadline for submissions on Sept. 15. Committee evaluations would follow, and the Mayor would announce the 2023 Poet Laureate in December of this year.      

In other council news, a Public Hearing was set to take place July 19 regarding additional funding needed - over the 2022 Capital Budget amounts - for the construction of the East Side Fire/EMS facility. That additional amount is $1.348 million and is due to increases in costs of material and services needed to complete the project, according to city documents. 

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