SARATOGA SPRINGS – Saratoga Springs will have a poet laureate.
The Saratoga Springs City Council recently approved a resolution creating the position of poet laureate for the city and creating the poet laureate committee.
“This resolution will form a poet laureate committee,” Saratoga Springs Mayor Ron Kim said. “I’m asking each of the city council members to appoint an individual for this and I’m also asking supervisors to appoint an individual. There’s a list of recommended people that we’re asking you to consider.”
Kim appointed Rachel Baum of Saratoga Springs as the chairperson to the poet laureate committee they will be forming. Baum had previously come to the city council with the idea for Saratoga Springs to have its own poet laureate, and had given a presentation about it at a city council meeting earlier this month. She is a previous president of the New York Library Association and was previously the assistant dean of the library school at the University at Albany.
A poet laureate is a civic position recognizing an exceptional local poet who is committed to the power of poetry to engage and inspire Baum said during her presentation earlier this month. She explained a poet laureate is guided by a committee which includes poets, educators, book sellers, librarians, and arts organizers.
“Why should we have one here in Saratoga Springs?” Baum said. “Well, why shouldn’t we?” “We’re not just health, history and horses. We have Yaddo, we have SPAC School of the Arts, we have for 20 years an open mic poetry session at Cafe Lena, we have Saratoga Reads!, we have a book festival now, there’s the Summer Writers Institute going on right now, so many reasons to have a poet laureate here.”
The individuals who are eventually appointed to the poet laureate committee will serve two-year terms. The city council commissioners and supervisor will each appoint a qualified individual to the committee within two weeks of Tuesday’s meeting. The committee will appoint a poet laureate of Saratoga Springs for a two-year term.
Having a poet laureate is good for the local economy, Baum explained. She said for every dollar spent on the arts there is a $7 return on the investment.
“When people come here for an arts-type event they spend more money, they stay here longer and continue to spend money,” Baum said. “And that’s great for our local businesses.”
A poet laureate has a number of duties, Baum said. She explained he or she will promote poetry and literary arts in the county, develop innovative public events in partnership with local organizations, represent Saratoga Springs at literary and cultural events and encourage young people’s appreciation of poetry.
The position of poet laureate is an honorary designation to someone in the community Kim said previously. He explained the position is not someone who is hired by the city.
Kim announced the name of the selected inaugural Poet Laureate will be revealed on Dec. 15, with a celebration in honor of the poet laureate to take place in April 2023 during National Poetry Month.