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MSU Professor Laura Apol named Lansing Poet Laureate

“Passing of the Laurels” celebration set for Friday, May 3, at 5 p.m. in Lansing’s Old Town

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Professor Laura Apol (courtesy photo)

Source: LEAP

LANSING, Mich. – The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), the RCAH Center for Poetry at Michigan State University and the Lansing Poetry Club, are proud to announce the appointment of Laura Apol as the second regional Lansing Poet Laureate. As Poet Laureate, Laura will engage the tri-county region in the literary arts to promote poetry as an art form, expand access to the literary arts, connect the community to poetry and showcase poetry as a literary voice that contributes to a greater sense of place, which supports the attraction of global talent and business.

“The appointment of a poet laureate is both symbolic and tangible—an element that speaks to the value of this region’s place; connecting arts and cultural experiences into daily life—most certainly an amenity that draws and keeps talent in the region,” said Bob Trezise, President and CEO of LEAP. “The past two years with the inaugural Lansing Poet Laureate were wildly successful, and we are eager to see how Laura uses her expertise to connect our region to the world through poetry.”

This new appointment of the Lansing Poet Laureate will continue to stimulate the transformative impact of poetry, creating excitement about the written and spoken word. The Lansing Poet Laureate will serve as an ambassador for poetry within the region for a 2-year appointment and will receive a $2,000 per year stipend from LEAP.

Laura is a longtime Lansing resident and associate professor of literacy and curriculum at Michigan State University’s College of Education. “It’s an honor to be selected as the incoming poet laureate, and I’m looking forward to working with area poets to bring poetry into areas where perhaps it’s something new,” she said. “Poems are about community—they connect us to one another. So much of a place, and people in a place, can be expressed and understood through poetry. I’d love for poetry to be part of the everyday life of the community, so that poems are encountered in unexpected places, and so people who don’t consider themselves to be poets find themselves enjoying poems and perhaps even writing some lines.”

With this appointment, the Lansing Poet Laureate will offer instructional workshops and readings with the public, working to engage all 3 counties within greater Lansing.

“I’m delighted that Laura will be our new Poet Laureate and will work within our communities to help us create poetry that explores the fabric of our lives and our deep connection to this region,” said Ruelaine Stokes, president of the Lansing Poetry Club.

“Here at the RCAH Center for Poetry, we’re thrilled to see Laura as Lansing Poet Laureate. The selection process was robust, with many excellent choices,” said Laurie Hollinger, assistant director for the RCAH Center for Poetry at MSU. “In the end, Laura’s stature as both a nationally renowned poet and her passion for poetry made her the best fit for this role. She will inspire future poets laureate, and I’m excited for our region to have such a gift.”

The community is invited to a celebration of the “Passing of the Laurel” from inaugural Lansing Poet Laureate Dennis Hinrichsen to Laura Apol, who will now follow in his footsteps. The event, which will include a reading by both poets, will take place Friday, May 3, 2019, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. during Arts Night Out in Old Town. This welcoming event will take place at Urban Beat, 1213 Turner Street in Old Town Lansing and will feature a meet and greet with the poet laureates and the project partners.

 

Nothing Begins with Us

By Laura Apol
—not this story or any other.

Andromeda
does not slow her dizzying spin

nor does a field of wheat wait. We catch our plane

in flight; below us, time
fades like a prim border of pines while the sky opens wide as god’s blue eye.

We have far to go, navigating between stars that appear only after dark. The secret names

we were given at birth are cradled in our curved hands.

It is a magic

world now, and we are at
the center, our own lives the map,

our words the edge of a knife we are just beginning to hone.

 

 

 

About LEAP

 

The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) is a coalition of area leaders partnering to build a stronger community for all–working every day to grow, retain and attract business. Learn more about LEAP at www.purelansing.com

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First Book Spine Poetry Contest a Success

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“The Boat of Quiet Hours,” built by Cindy Hunter Morgan as inspiration for our first Book Spine Poetry Contest.

 

While you might not be able to judge a book by its cover, it turns out that you can craft poetry with several covers. That’s what friends and followers of the RCAH Center for Poetry learned when they entered our first ever Book Spine Poetry Contest.

The contest, initiated by interim director Cindy Hunter Morgan, challenges readers to build a poem using lines consisting of book titles. Contestants were tasked with choosing 3-7 books, arranging them in such a way as to display the titles to be read as lines of poetry, and submitting a photo of the constructed poem for consideration.

With 46 entries submitted by 26 people from around the U.S., it was difficult choosing only one winner. Cindy suggested narrowing the widely varied and highly eclectic field down to ten finalists.

In the end, Stephen Rachman, a professor in the MSU Department of English, won with his entry, “Underworld.”

IMG_4034“Underworld,” winner of the Book Spine Poetry Contest, built by Stephen Rachman.

About the winning entry, Cindy shared these comments:

“Underworld,” built by Steve Rachman, is the only entry that uses one book (Underworld) to function visually and formally as a title for the poem that follows, and “Underworld,” as that title, serves as an effective set up for the poem. We love the multiple, simultaneous possibilities of meaning in this poem, and we’re all a little worried about this woman. We wish her well on her journey, and we send congratulations to Steve, who constructed something haunting and evocative with this stack of books.

Cindy had this to say about our finalists:

The nine other entries we’ve listed as finalists are not listed in any particular order. We love these poems for various reasons: vivid imagery, wild juxtaposition, a sense of surprise, use of metaphor, or a kind of philosophical statement the “builder” is able to make with very few moves. We’ve also listed one “Special Mention” poem, which did not meet the requirements of the contest (a minimum of three titles) but feels important and significant because of its message. This “Special Mention” poem was submitted by RCAH Director of Communications Morris Arvoy. Thank you for this poem, Moe.

 

To view all 46 entries, visit our Flickr Page.