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Poetry on Pause

August 20, 2014, 12:00 am

After eight years with an official city poet laureate, the Santa Fe Arts Commission has paused the program for evaluation.

Jon Davis became poet laureate for Santa Fe in July of 2013, which means his two-year term expired this summer (read his column). But since the city never solicited applications for a new poet, Davis is still acting in the honorary position.

“The Arts Commission wanted to pause and sort of look at where the program is and where the successes have been and where the program is going,” commission Director Debra Garcia y Griego tells SFR.

The commission heard an informal report on Aug. 11 from a subcommittee that is working on those questions, and the appointed group has yet to make a decision. Part of the challenge, Garcia y Griego says, is that the position comes with a $5,000 stipend. In 2005, when the city first solicited names for a poet laureate, the plan was for that money to come from a combination of public and private funds housed at the Santa Fe Community Foundation, but the fund has not grown as expected, she says.

Arthur Sze was the city’s first poet laureate, followed by Valerie Martinez, then Joan Logghe. A recent story in The New York Times highlighted the national poet laureate program, established in 1937, counted 44 states with poet laureates (New Mexico not among them) and mentioned that dozens of cities have the position.

Whatever happens with the laureate, Garcia y Griego says Santa Fe is “dedicated to continuing to raise the role of literary arts and poetry in the community” and is actively seeking ideas about what form that might take.


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