Cultural Affairs Office

Press and Communications

Are You Houston's Next Poet Laureate?

January 10, 2017 -- Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston Public Library (HPL) Director Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson announce that the City of Houston is seeking its next Poet Laureate. The Houston Poet Laureate Program celebrates Houston’s rich culture and diversity by creating excitement about poetry through outreach, programs, teaching and written work.

“The Poet Laureate program is one way we demonstrate in a very authentic way the impact of the arts in people’s lives” said Mayor Turner. “This will be the third year of the program, and I encourage anyone who has a passion for poetry and the ability to ignite that passion in others to submit an application.”

The Houston Poet Laureate Program is coordinated by the Houston Public Library and Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. The new Poet Laureate will serve for two years starting in April 2017. There is an annual honorarium of $5,000 provided through the City’s Arts Initiative Grant Program.  Submissions are welcome from individual poets, authors, writers and spoken word artists. The guidelines and term requirements can be found at Complete applications and documents need to be submitted online by midnight on February 5th, 2017, at (link deactivated).

“Poetry is an important and enjoyable community engagement activity for all Houstonians. It reveals diverse points of view and exposes the writer’s emotions and imagination,” said Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson, director of Houston Public Library.  “Houston’s new Poet Laureate will continue the tradition of representing the city through the written word in all its forms and making poetry more accessible to our diverse communities.  The Library and the Poet Laureate will work collaboratively to utilize poetry programs as a literacy tool to engage children, teens and adults.”

Mayor Turner has appointed the Houston Poet Laureate Selection Committee - a diverse group of poets, scholars and literary experts - to assist in the nomination and selection process. The group includes: Ashley Turner, First Daughter of Houston; Robin Davidson, current Houston Poet Laureate; Marina Tristan, Arte Publico Press; Reyes Ramirez, DiverseWorks; Jack McBride, Writers in the Schools; Sally Connoll, UH Director of Graduate Studies, and Martha Serpas, UH Professor and Author. Non-voting members include: Jennifer Schwartz, Houston Public Library, and Radu Barbuceanu, Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.

Finalists will be interviewed in person by the selection committee in March, and the final selection will be made by the Mayor. The Poet Laureate will be announced in April 2017 in celebration of National Poetry Month.

For further information, visit the Houston Public Library at, on Twitter @houstonlibrary or call 832.393.1313.

For further information about the City’s Cultural Programs, go to or follow the Mayor’s office of Cultural Affairs on Facebook @HoustonMOCA.