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Arizona Commission on the Arts Kicks Off Poet Laureate Nomination Process

Arizona was one of eight states without a State Poet Laureate, a position established in states and countries around the world, in which a local established poet educates students and residents about poetry and literature.

But on May 11, 2012, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed SB1348 into law, and the Arizona Commission on the Arts staff got to work on the process for nominating and selecting the state's first Poet Laureate.

State and National Poet Laureates date back to the Romans, they serve as champions of poetry on the local and national stages while meeting with emerging artists, community members, and government officials throughout their terms.

According to SB1348, the first Arizona Poet Laureate will serve a term of two years, will work on a literary project throughout that term, and will hold public readings of poetry all over the state.

"We hope the person appointed will able to do substantive education work in our rural communities where there isn't a lot of focus on the arts," said Jaime Dempsey, Deputy Director of the Arts Commission when Jackalope Ranch spoke to her about the potential State Poet Laureate in May. "We have some of the top academic writing programs in Arizona and arts organizations that are world renowned... the ideal candidate could connect those entities and create opportunities for partnerships around the state."

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Potential Poet Laureate must "be of recognized stature in the literary, cultural, education and/or academic communities ;possess a significant record of high-quality published or documented work and/or service through literary arts; have resided in the state for at least 2 years from the date of nomination; live in Arizona for at least 6 months out of the calendar year; be willing and able to travel throughout the state; and and be least 18 years of age."

Nominations can be submitted through the Arizona Commission on the Arts website through November 9, 2012.

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