Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Belfast Poet Laureate — Elizabeth Garber

If you read the local weekly paper carefully, you might see the following want ad that is posted every two years.

Help Wanted: Poet Laureate of Belfast. Qualifications: Be Belfastian, a clever, productive, thoughtful, colorful, and a well worded poet to express and convey a vision of Belfast. This is your chance to combine art with public service. Organize poetry activities. Be prepared to be stopped on the street to answer deep questions about poetry. Serve on the Steering Committee of the annual Belfast Poetry Festival. Maintain a welcoming atmosphere for both emerging and established poets. Be the “public poet” of Belfast, the Biggest Little Poetry Town in Maine.

Belfast takes Poetry seriously with an official post under the auspices of the Belfast City Council. You can find pins at the Chamber of Commerce that condense a great deal of Belfast history in one little phrase: From Poultry to Poetry. Belfast was once famous for the chicken feathers blowing through the streets, a chicken factory on the waterfront that dumped the guts in the bay, and the Broiler Festival with it’s own elected Broiler Queen. Now you can meet the reigning Poet Laureate at the Belfast Poetry Festival, two days in October for poetry and art collaborations and performances all over town. At Belfast’s New Year’s Eve celebration, a popular event is a poetry reading celebrating Belfast poets. Every two years a gold cape is placed on the shoulders of the newly chosen Poet Laureate. Throughout the year, you’ll find a variety of poetry readings and workshops, writing groups and an independent press printing books of poetry. Who knows what poetry you’ll be inspired to write when you move to Belfast!

The previous Three Poet Laureates (Linda Buckmaster, Karin Spitfire and Elizabeth Garber)
in their Church Street Festival Finery. The new Poet Laureate will be celebrated April 15.

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