Delaware Public Media

Arts Playlist: Delaware's Poet Laureate

Mar 29, 2015

In April, poetry takes center stage with National Poetry Month. Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture.

Delaware’s Poet laureate JoAnn Balingit says its a great opportunity for readers to rediscover the power of this literary form.

“There are so many... Just find a great, big old anthology and flip through it. Go to the library and see if there is anything on the shelf," said Balingit. "Go to an open mic or a local reading, there are lots of open mics popping up in Kent, Sussex and New Castle.”

Balingit was appointed Delaware’s Poet Laureate in May 2008 by then Gov. Ruth Ann Minner (D). She teaches poetry in libraries, community centers and schools across the state and says conducting student workshops is one of her more fulfilling duties as the First State’s top poet.

“It gives the students a great opportunity to listen to each other and learn things about each other that they don’t know because I think there’s not a lot of time during the day for students to share their own stories,” she notes. “And that’s really what drew me to poetry first; it’s a conversation.  I fell in love with poets because they were talking to me.”

In celebration of National Poetry Month, Balingit will read new poems and introduce Lucian Mattison, winner of the 2014 Dogfish Head Poetry Prize who will also recite his work at the Old State House Museum in Dover on Saturday April 4th.

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This piece is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.