Council Appoints Dr. Hoult Poet Laureate
October 1, 2015
By Lynne Bronstein
Dr. Janet Hoult is Culver City's Poet Laureate-for now.
The appointment was made at the September 28 City Council meeting and fulfilled a wish by many people to see Dr. Hoult win the appointment, which is honorary, unpaid, and will be for a term of two years, expiring on December 31, 2017.
The Council, acting on the recommendation of the Cultural Affairs Commission, made the provisional appointment in order to allow Dr. Hoult to represent poetry during the 2017 Culver City Centennial.
As per the city's and the Commission's recommendations they also voted to direct the Commission to continue to research and prepare guidelines for a permanent Artist Laureate position, which would have its first appointment in late 2017 or early 2018.
Christine Byers of the Commission told the council that the change from a requested Poet Laureate position to that of an Artist Laureate would give the city "an opportunity to support all artistic disciplines" and to "showcase all artists living or working in Culver City."
Dr. Hoult had originally suggested that the city create a Poet Laureate position several months ago. She emphasized at the time that although she would apply for the position, she wanted others to have a fair chance.
Because Dr. Hoult is well-known for reading short and often humorous poems about Culver City issues at City Council meetings, many members of the community felt that she ought to be the first Poet Laureate of Culver City.
Dr. Hoult also offered to advise the Cultural Affairs Commission and city staff as to the creation of the position and guidelines for selection.
Thomas Small, another member of the Commission, noted that several meetings were held to discuss ideas and get input from the community. Topics touched on at these meetings included whether Dr. Hoult was intended to serve only in an advisory capacity or as the Honorary Artist Laureate or both; the term; requirements and needs during the upcoming Centennial; assistance from Dr. Hoult with creation of procedures and the process for selection of Artists Laureate in the future; creation of an Ad Hoc Artist Laureate subcommittee; and the hands on, practical experience that Dr. Hoult has.
The process, Small admitted, would take a long time but "as we realized we didn't have much time until the Centennial, we decided to appoint Dr. Hoult to be Poet Laureate."
Andrew Weissman questioned why, if the immediate need was to appoint someone to serve as an artist laureate for the Centennial, why wasn't the appointment being made by the Centennial Committee?
Small replied that involving the Centennial Committee had not been in the plan.
Three potential motions were before the council: to direct Cultural Affairs to continue to work on a plan for future artist laureates, to appoint a provisional Poet Laureate, and directing Cultural Affairs to create guidelines with help from Dr. Hoult (Motions 1 and 3 were really one motion, the council agreed).
Weissman and Jeff Cooper, who admitted he didn't understand the motion for artist laureates and thought that the process had become too complicated, voted against the combined Motions 1 and 3. Weissman also voted against the appointment of Dr. Hoult. However, both motions had a majority and passed.
Dr. Janet Hoult is Professor Emerita, Charter College of Education Division of Educational Foundations and Interdivisional Studies California State University, Los Angeles. Her many involvements in the community include teaching poetry at Culver City Senior Citizen's Center, serving as Culver City Landlord-Tenant Mediation Board – Member-at-Large, serving on the Culver City Sister City Committee, and serving on the Culver City Centennial Celebration Marketing Committee. Her books include Body Parts and Body Language, both of which are collections of poems about aging.