FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 15, 2022
Santa Fe, New Mexico - Nominations and applications are now open for the next New Mexico Poet Laureate. The 2019 state legislature and Sen. Bill O’Neill created the program within the Department of Cultural Affairs, and it was developed as a partnership between the New Mexico State Library (NMSL) and New Mexico Arts, the state arts agency.
The inaugural New Mexico Poet Laureate for 2020-2022 Levi Romero hails from the Embudo Valley. Mr. Romero is Assistant Professor in Chicana and Chicano Studies at UNM, and director of the New Mexico Cultural Studies Certificate Program in CCS. Romero is a bilingual poet whose language is immersed in the regional manito dialect of northern New Mexico. His award-winning work has been published throughout the US, Mexico, Spain, and Cuba.
“The New Mexico Poet Laureate program enabled me to serve and cultivate a poetry community across New Mexico,” Mr. Romero stated. “Through the collective expanse and scope of all the many different voices across the state, the program created a querencia for poets; a place where one feels they belong - safe and nurtured. It was especially crucial that a place such as this exist during the pandemic and the isolation and quarantines we experienced.”
“Levi stepped into the inaugural poet laureate role just as we found ourselves facing a global pandemic,” Michelle Laflamme-Childs, director of New Mexico Arts noted. “As we retreated to our homes, we looked to the arts to bring us joy, to heal, and to provide a sense of community in our isolation. Levi brought the warmth and power of poetry into our virtual classrooms and online gathering spaces, helping us feel a little more connected. We are excited to see how the next state poet laureate explores the role poetry can play in our reemergence.”
In speaking about Levi Romero’s role as New Mexico Poet Laureate, Tim Donahue, New Mexico Poetry Center librarian noted, “Even in Zoom readings where he presented, Levi certainly did nurture a feeling of virtual belonging in a time of physical isolation.”
The poet laureate will document their travels in a web journal or blog/vlog, and will curate a scheduled triennial anthology of New Mexico poetry to highlight the work of the many poets statewide.
The position includes a stipend of $10,000 a year, travel and printing expenses, and part time staff support. The poet supports literacy and enhances education, while promoting arts enrichment in every part of the state. Through speaking engagements and programs at schools and libraries, the poet engages all New Mexicans, building an awareness and love of poetry. Additionally, the first New Mexico Poetry Anthology made up of works by New Mexico poets is curated by Levi Romero and will be available later this year.
As part of the program, the NMSL created the Poetry Center in the Carruthers Building in Santa Fe. Besides a home-base for the poet laureate, the Poetry Center is also an interactive public space supporting the creation of new poetry, zines, and self-publications.
Nominations for the New Mexico Poet Laureate are open through May 15, 2022. More information about the program and the nomination process are available at https://poetry.nmculture.org/ or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
About New Mexico Arts
New Mexico Arts is the state arts agency and a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs. New Mexico Arts administers the state’s One Percent for Public Art program, awards grants to nonprofit organizations for arts and cultural programs in their communities across the state, and provides technical assistance and educational opportunities for organizations, artists, and arts educators throughout New Mexico.