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Search Begins for Queens' Next Poet Laureate

By Katie Honan | March 19, 2015 4:06pm
 Borough President Melinda Katz is searching for a new poet laureate for Queens, she said.
Borough President Melinda Katz is searching for a new poet laureate for Queens, she said.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

CORONA — What rhymes with Unisphere?

Those who know the answer should apply for the open position of Queens poet laureate, an unpaid three-year post meant to spread the love of learning and verse throughout the borough, officials said.

"The winning applicant will also have a deep and abiding love of Queens, its people and its spirit," said Borough President Melinda Katz.

Prospective poets must apply by April 24, live in Queens and show a history of English publication (though bilingual scribes are encouraged to throw their hat in the ring too), officials said.

Katz is heading up the search with the help of from Queens Library and Queens College.

A secret panel of judges will select the winning bard, who will be the sixth since the job was created in 1996, officials said. It was not immediately clear when the winner would be announced.

Once selected, the laureate's duties will include hosting events and promoting literature in the borough, officials said.

"We need someone to try to communicate to the people of the borough that love of poetry, so that it becomes kind of contagious," said Maria Terrone, a Jackson Heights poet who is helping select the secret judges.

The most recent laureate, Paolo Javier, actively maintained a Tumblr and kicked off his final 12-month term with a day-long festival at the Queens Museum last March. 

Queens has provided fertile ground for scribblers like Jack Kerouac, Mobb Deep, Patti Smith, Nas and Simon and Garfunkel. 

"Poetry in the United States is kind of a marginalized art, yet whenever there is some tragic situation or wonderful situation, people look to poetry," Terrone said.

"It really touches a deep human chord," she added.

For more information, visit the borough president's website.