Monday, May 21, 2007

Re: Should Somerville Have a Poet Laureate?

After some debate over whether such a position should exist in the first place, Allen Bramhall has declared himself Poet Laureate of Boston. Across the river, Cambridge is also toying with the idea. While here in Somerville, Doug Holder has begun to campaign for Somerville to have its own Poet Laureate on both his blog and his column in The Somerville News.

[Note: the fellow pictured in Holder's blog is not a 'villen at all, but a Briton named Luke Wright.]

Holder quotes me as saying:

Ian Thal (Poet/Mime/Performer): “The question should be: ‘Would having a poet laureate serve Somerville in a manner that the Somerville Arts Council does not already?’ The Somerville Arts Council does a better job than most cities in Massachusetts supporting the arts/artists (certainly better than Boston). The laureate position should add something to what is already there.”

Just to clarify my statements: Outside of the experience of having my poems in Boston City Hall (the poems were written and submitted while I still resided in Boston), I have found that most of the support I have received for my art inside of Boston has been from artist-run organizations like Mobius or Artists at Large, Inc. while the Cambridge Arts Council and the Somerville Arts Council are very visible in the community, the result being a friendlier and supportive environment for artists relative to the situation on the other side of the river. My experience of Brookline, Cambridge, Somerville are school systems in which the arts are integrated into the curriculum, while in Boston, arts education exists only at the discretion of visionary administrators at specific schools.

The point being that anything Boston might do to raise the status of any art form would be a great improvement while Somerville's proposed laureate position should come with a mandate to further enhance Somerville's efforts.

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