LBCC Seeks Its Next Poet Laureate: As we kick off spring term, LBCC looks for next year’s poet laureate

Are you fit for the job of being LBCC’s next poet laureate? Are you a catalyst of creative energy? Do you have a notebook filled with poetry? Are you passionate about increasing the appreciation of poetry on LBCC’s campus?

If so, you should consider applying to be the 2018-19 LBCC poet laureate.

What is that? Not very many people outside of the poetry community know.

A poet laureate is a poet appointed by a group or region who is granted the role of increasing the awareness and appreciation of poetry. The nation has a poet laureate, the state has a poet laureate, and our very own LBCC has a poet laureate.

LBCC is the only community college in the nation that has a student as the poet laureate, and this is a luxury, as poetry club advisor Robin Havenick, current poet laureate Shane Stanhope, and poetry club member Emily Ramsey explained.

Havenick, the poetry club advisor for the last 12 years, explained that what any poet laureate really does is “stand up for poetry in the community,” and bring poetry to people’s lives.

Our poet laureate changes yearly, and is picked not only because they are a talented poet, but also because they have a “love of working with students,” Havenick said.

It is that time of year: we are beginning spring term and as this school year comes to a close we are ready to begin looking for a new poet laureate.

The standing job of LBCC’s poet laureate is to run the poetry club, however the job really stretches beyond that. Havenick, Stanhope, and Ramsey all explained that the position includes planning poetry-related activities on campus, performing at the “Unity Celebration” that concludes Black History Month every February, commemorating LBCC events, and working on the “Life in Art” project, which brings poetry to the lives of under-represented groups in the community.

The poetry club is a workshop-based, fun and inclusive chance to share poetry. The job of running it primarily consists of coming up with prompts for the meetings, as well as organizational tasks. The poetry club meets weekly in the Diversity Achievement Center (DAC) on Tuesdays from 3 to 4 p.m.

“Shane [is] the current poet laureate and he is most likely not aware but he has impacted me not only as a person but as a poet. I have been able to grow and have felt like I was in a safe space to share my poetry and anything else I had to say. I was recognized for more than just my hard working ethics and quietness and he has truly inspired me to grow as a poet,” said Ramsey.

“This is a really wonderful opportunity for a student,” Havenick said. “You can make it extraordinary.”

LBCC’s poet laureate position began in 2008 when former LBCC President Rita Cavin and Havenick came together wanting a poet to commemorate the new science building, Madrone Hall. They agreed to have a student be the yearly poet laureate, and this was the beginning of the position.

It began as a smaller job, where the poet laureate was given a $250 stipend each term, but it developed into something much greater. As the poet laureates became more involved it lead to what is now an endowment fund each term of $1500 for the selected poet laureate.

A student becomes poet laureate by filling out an application, as Stanhope explained just as he was returning from a poet laureate meeting. The application includes submitting a simple form, six of your own poems, an essay discussing your passion for poetry and how you will enhance the poetry community at LBCC, and one letter of recommendation from a faculty member.

Stanhope has been the poet laureate since September and said, “It’s been a lot of fun.”

He and his colleague, Dani Tellvik, who works in the LBCC Writing Center, created their own “zine” (short for magazine in the art/literature world), titled “Off the Record,” where students and local artists can submit their poetry, short fiction, and visual art

“It isn’t as scary as it sounds,” Stanhope said of being poet laureate. There is an advisory board to support the poet laureate, and though there are challenging parts, “The cool thing is it’s really your vision.”

The poet laureate also gets to be part of a network with the poetry community outside of LBCC. Stanhope worked with Interzone Cafe’s spoken word poetry community in Corvallis, as well as working on producing the yearly “Word Mob” spoken word poetry event for the greater Corvallis-Albany area.

People should care, Stanhope said, because “the idea is to give a voice to people.” He said that through opportunities such as this you can get people’s voices out there, and this “build[s] a stronger community.”

There’s poetry all over LBCC thanks to our poet laureate, and this poetry “enriches this community in ways that are extraordinary,” Havenick said. “It’s about saving our lives. It’s about saving our souls. That’s what it’s about.”

. . .
At a glance:

Interested applicants can contact instructor and poetry club advisor Robin Havenick with questions:
-Office Hours: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m.
Poetry club meets every Tuesday from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the DAC
Remember: interested applicants, you need to have your complete application, six of your own poems, an essay on your passion for poetry and how you will use this to enhance the LBCC community, and your letter of recommendation from a faculty member ready and submitted to Robin Havenick by Monday, May 21.

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