Joliet looks to hire a poet laureate

Poet to be chosen after finalists compete in poetry reading

Joliet will look for a poet laureate.

The City Council this week approved a proposal from the city’s Arts Commission to hire a poet laureate with state grant money to write poems about Joliet and promote poetry in the city.

“A poet laureate would be a positive force for the city of Joliet to promote our great city through poetry,” Ron Romero, chairman of the Arts Commission, told the council before its vote Tuesday.

The city will issue a request for qualifications as it seeks someone to serve as the poet laureate.

The proposal approved by the council requires nominations for the position to be turned in by April. A poet laureate will be chosen after finalists participate in a public reading May 16.

A poet laureate would be paid a $6,000 honorarium for two years of service.

The money will come through a state grant, and city officials said candidates will be advised that pay will be dependent on the continued availability of the grant.

A poet laureate will be a first for Joliet. But city staff noted in a memo to the council that it has been done in other Illinois cities. Rockford, Elgin, Urbana and Highland Park have created poet laureate positions, according to the staff memo.

The Joliet Arts Commission, which was created in 2019 to promote the arts in the city, obtained the grant that will pay the honorarium.

The poet laureate will be charged with writing poems about Joliet and being a “champion the art of poetry and spoken-word art,” according to a staff memo to the council.

The poet laureate also would have the duty of giving at least 10 public readings and conducting free workshops open to the public.