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Queens seeks new candidates to be borough’s poet laureate

Queens poets, take note: The search for works that inspire borough residents of all ages and cultural backgrounds has begun.

Borough President Helen Marshall and Queens College President James Muyskens announced this week at Borough Hall that they have launched their search for the fifth poet laureate of Queens.

“Here in Queens we are blessed to have an enormous number of talented poets,” Marshall said. “We are looking for one who %u2026 will promote a love of poetry among young and old, and who will actively engage our multi-ethnic communities in the art of poetry reading and writing for the next three years.”

Muyskens said it will be difficult for borough officials to choose only one laureate from the pool of borough writers.

The Queens College president cited a piece by Marianne Moore about not liking poetry that says, “I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle%u2026 Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers in it after all, a place for the genuine.”

Muyskens said they hope to find a poet who heeds Moore’s sentiment.

“That is what we will be looking for in our next laureate, a poet who knows the difference between all this fiddle and the genuine, and has the skill to write about both,” Muyskens said.

The Friends of the Queens College Library first proposed the idea for a borough poet laureate in 1996 and it was endorsed by then-Borough President Claire Shulman. Julio Marzan, a Little Neck resident, currently holds the position, and it was held in the past by Ishle Yi Park, Hal Sirowitz and Queens College professor emeritus Stephen Stephanchev.

The poet laureate position requires a three-year time commitment, including the poet’s participation in at least one annual event sponsored by the borough president’s office. Applicants must have lived in Queens for at least the past two years and have a significant publication record.

The judges will look into whether the applicants have published poetry collections; have been included in journals, anthologies, recorded spoken word presentations and online poetry Web sites; have participated in poetry readings; and can articulate their vision for outreach to the Queens community.

Aspiring poet laureates must send no more than 10 single-sided pages of their work, which includes poetry related to Queens. They also must include a cover letter, a brief general biography and a literary résumé.

Submissions must be received by April 14 and they will be evaluated by a panel of judges chosen by the Queens Poet Laureate Administrative Committee.

Marshall will review the judges’ recommendations and make the appointment that will be announced during a June ceremony.

To view the full guidelines and access applications, visit queensbp.org.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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