Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Our Next Poet Laureate

Can it be that time already?  Time to announce the next Poet Laureate?

I awoke to this story on the NPR website that announces Juan Felipe Herrera as the nation's next Poet Laureate.  I confess that I have never heard of this poet.

It's not because he has only published one or two books.  Various sources disagree, but it's safe to say that he's published close to 30 books.  They weren't all volumes of poetry; they include children's books, as well as novels in verse.

He's a California poet through and through.  I love living in a country where the child of migrant workers can grow up to be poet laureate--or anything else.

Someone asked me the other day what my dream job would be.  I thought about saying poet laureate or Supreme Court Justice.  But I decided to be more realistic. 

I said that I'd like to be poet-in-residence in a department that I was also helping to guide, but maybe not as Chair.  I said that I wanted to be creating a program that looks at the intersections of poetry and spirituality, the intersections of spirituality with a wide variety of art forms.

My spouse said that my dream job doesn't exist.  He might be correct.

Good.  I don't have to wait for someone to die or retire before my dream job becomes available.

My dream job requires more interdisciplinary approaches than we usually see in universities or seminaries--but it could happen.

I admit that I've only seen the types of courses that I'd like to teach offered at shorter residencies or conferences--I haven't seen a whole degree program based on those types of classes.  I also haven't looked very far and wide.

I haven't seen my dream job advertised--not yet.

And I imagine that perhaps I haven't seen such a job in the kind of department where I would long to be partly because I live down here.  I suspect that my dream job exists on the other coast (no, not Naples, FL, but the far other coast).  I wouldn't be surprised if I found out that having that dream job would mean that I would sacrifice many other elements of my current life that delight me.

In many ways, I already have a dream job, even if it's not being the Poet Laureate of the nation.  I get to shepherd a department that values the liberal arts of all sorts.  I have great colleagues.  I feel valued--and people do say thank you in my work place.  No one yells--I used to think we could take that for granted in the grown up world, but I've met too many people with different experiences to think that anymore.

Still, as I was reading about the job of being Poet Laureate, I realized that one could be Poet Laureate while continuing to work in the job that someone like me would need to have once the Poet Laureate stint was over--it's only a year appointment after all.

I look forward to seeing what our new Poet Laureate will do when his appointment begins in September.  He seems like the kind of poet who will be a great activist for poetry in the larger world.

I will be taking notes.  Should I find myself similarly appointed, I want to be ready to go on day 1.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Ahhh... He's from my neck of the woods (or side of the ocean or something).