Culver City Observer -

Council Likes Poet Laureate Idea But Not Yet

 

By Lynne Bronstein

Observer Reporter

The City Council has agreed that a Poet Laureate is a good idea for Culver City. But the hope that a poet would be chosen immediately was squelched as the council at its May 11 meeting opted for creating a process that would allow fairness for all.

Initially it looked like the council was going to appoint Dr. Janet Hoult to the position of Poet Laureate. Dr. Hoult is well-known to council meeting regulars as a speaker in public comment who gives her opinions in verse, almost always punctuated by humor.

But the council did not appoint Dr. Hoult automatically.

Several council members noted that like any other city position, the Poet Laureate position should be one that is open to anyone who wants to apply.

Meghan Sahli-Wells said that Dr. Hoult was the "spark" who had brought poetry to the council's attention and she had no problem with Dr. Hoult as the appointee.

In deference to the doubts of the other members as to the process, she agreed that the process should be open.

The council also thought that the Cultural Affairs Commission ought to be involved in the process, defining what a Poet Laureate should be and what qualifications are required for applying.

Dr. Hoult said she understood. In a letter to the City Council she wrote:

"It would have been delightful to have been named the first honorary poet laureate this evening, but it was clear that we need to avoid any problems that could arise from folks who would object that they were not given an opportunity to apply. I think, in working with the [Cultural Affairs Commission (CAC)], we can develop some guidelines based upon those established by other cities, and present you with a plan that could be used for years to come when appointing poets laureate in the future."

The CAC has also suggested that there be a literary component to the mission of the CAC. "A poet laureate position can be the beginning..." said Dr. Hoult.

While some cities offer stipends to their Poet Laureates (Dr. Hoult mentioned that Culver City sister city Lethbridge, Canada gives a stipend of $25,000 a year), Dr. Hoult believes that a poet could serve the post without any remuneration.

Her husband, Charley, had believed the appointment would come during the meeting and had bought her a "surprise" bouquet of roses.

 

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