The state of Colorado has no official duties for its poet laureate
although the selection committee suggested that it would be wonderful
if I would speak in all areas of the state during my tenure. Under
the sponsorship of the Colorado Endowment for the Humanities,
I did this, carrying out Poetry in the Schools work, readings,
and community discussions about how the visibility of poetry could
be enhanced locally.
In addition, I
decided to undertake some projects of my own based on my conviction
that poets need to do all they can to increase the audience
for poetry. My original intent was to initiate these projects
in northern Colorado where I live and then find a way to extend
them to the entire state; however, because of the lack of resources
I have not been able to move beyond local work. My projects
include putting poems on local buses, training MFA students
to teach poetry in the schools, and giving awards to local teachers
for the innovative use of poetry in the public school classroom.
All three of these projects have been very successful, with
shared sponsorship and enthusiastic public response. "Poetry
in Motion" (registered trademark of the Poetry Society
of America) is carried out in conjunction with Poetry Society
of America, local business sponsors, the Poudre R1 School District,
and Colorado State University.
At the most recent
ceremony, the poetry placards for the buses with poems and artwork
presented to the public, the mayor spoke, and more than eighty
people attended. (Five hundred poems had been submitted to the
selection committee.) My second project, "Literacy Through
Poetry," has won grants from the Witter Bynner Foundation
for Poetry, the Colorado Council on the Arts, the Lila B. Morgan
Memorial Fund, among others, and has brought Kenneth Koch, Jack
Collom, and Julio Marzan to Fort Collins to train graduate students
to teach poetry in the schools. Over its three years it has reached
just about every elementary school in the city. My third project
gives small cash awards to teachers and a parallel award to the
teacher's school libraries for poetry books. It is funded by a
memorial award set up to honor a high school teacher and will
give its sixth round of awards this spring.
Crow's Poet Laureate Projects
in Motion: Putting poetry placards in Fort Collins
city busses in conjunction with the Poetry Society of America
Through Poetry: Sending advanced poetry students into
the schools to teach poetry. A major poet trains the student apprentices.
Awards: Spotlighting the innovative use of poetry in
our public school classrooms through awards to teachers.
If you would like to volunteer, please
call Mary Crow, 970-482-9923 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org