In partnership with the Westwood Public Library's 21st Century Fund and the Westwood Cultural Council, the Town of Westwood is pleased to announce the selection of Westwood's first Poet Laureate.
Meet Westwood's inaugural Poet Laureate:
The Town of Westwood’s Select Board, acting on the recommendation of the Westwood Poet Laureate Selection Committee, has appointed Lynne Viti as the town’s inaugural Poet Laureate. She is a teacher, poet, fiction writer and community advocate for poetry. During her term, which runs through June 2025, Viti will present poetry workshops in the Westwood schools, run poetry workshops for adults in the library and senior center, and write poems to commemorate the town and civic holidays.
Additionally, she will partner with the library and the schools in a town-wide poetry contest, a slam poetry event, and a poetry course at the Westwood Senior Center. She will also select and mentor the first and second Youth Poets Laureate, a position also established by the Select Board.
Both the Poet Laureate and Youth Poet Laureate positions are sponsored by a gift from the Westwood Public Library's 21st Century Fund. The Westwood Cultural Council has also granted funding for programs and inititatives facilitated by the Poet Laureate.
Photo Credit Richard Howard
In making its recommendation to the Select Board, the Poet Laureate Search Committee, led by co-chairs Kieran Moriarty, a Westwood High teacher and Maria Ryan, library trustee, cited Viti’s “notable history and ongoing effort to promote poetry in the town of Westwood, her concrete plans for events in the town during her term as Poet Laureate, and the excellence of her poetry."
Viti is the author of four books of poetry, most recently, The Walk to Cefalù, from Cornerstone Press. She has published widely in online and print journals and newspapers, and has won prizes in local, national and international competitions, including the WMOR/Joe Gouveia Outermost Poetry Contest, The Fish Publishing Poetry Contest, the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Contest, and the Tucson Festival of Books Literary Awards. A lecturer emerita in the Writing Program at Wellesley College, she and her family have lived in Westwood since 1991.
“I am excited to serve as Westwood’s inaugural poet laureate,” said Lynne. “I am passionate about poetry, and look forward to the honor of bringing poetry into every corner of our town, from the very young to the eldest residents. At this time more than ever, we need poetry as a way to celebrate, to mourn, to express our innermost feelings, and to make sense of the world around us.”
All events listed here are free and open to the public.
Sunday April 2, 3 PM, Poet Laureate’s Inaugural Reading,
Westwood Public Library
April 6, 2023, 5-6 PM, with Heather Corbally Bryant, Newhouse Center, Green Hall, 2d flr.,
Wellesley College, 106 Central St., Wellesley, MA
Tuesday April 25, 2023, 7PM, Westwood Tuesday Poets, 2d Annual Reading and Open Mic,
Westwood Public Library, 660 High Street, Westwood, MA
Thursday May 18th, 7PM, Featured Speaker, and inaugural reading, Friends of the Library Annual Meeting
Monday, May 29, 11 AM, Westwood Memorial Day Ceremony
Westwood’s New Cemetery
September 14, 2023, 7 PM, Rozzie Reads, Roslindale House, 120 Poplar Street, Roslindale, MA
Saturday, September 23, 2023, Westwood Day
High School Parking Lot
September 14,2023 featured reader, Pour Me A Poem, Mansfield, MA, 51 Park Street, Mansfield, MA (there will be a pass the hat for the featured reader, completely voluntary)
October 16, 2023, 10 AM Poetry Mini-Workshop
Westwood Council on Aging
*If your library, church, community center, high school college alumnae/i group, or book club would like to book a poetry reading and book signing event, contact me at email@example.com for information. I’d be delighted to come and read and do a Q &A for you!
What is a Poet Laureate?
Why would Westwood need a Poet Laureate? What does that entail and why do we need poetry in the municipal sphere? What practical purpose can a Poet Laureate serve? All good questions!
Many other municipalities in Massachusetts have already established Poet Laureates and have explained it thus:
Just as a town has common property — the town library, the town hall, the town parks — there is a common human landscape inhabited by all whose lives are rooted in a place. It’s a landscape of history, attitudes and common experiences. Without someone striving to weave the community into words, a town’s identity remains the unexamined sum of fleeting moments. Whether or not one agrees with the Poet Laureate’s words, they can help to crystallize the town’s view of itself. The Poet Laureate holds up a mirror so the town can see itself. https://westtisburylibrary.org/
And as Ellie O’Leary, Poet Laureate of Amesbury, MA states “In the civic sphere, poetry can offer succinctness that is not available in other writing. Even people who say they don’t 'get' poetry will sometimes find themselves reading or quoting it in stressful times.”
Having a town sponsored Poet can be a gift to the community and create a lasting archive of a living history of Westwood seen through poetry. The Poet Laureate for Westwood typically writes poems about the town, the time, and the spirit of Westwood. We have a history of Westwood through photos, newspapers, letters, and so much more; establishing a Poet Laureate to write poems for Westwood would create a unique time capsule of Westwood seen through poems.
The Poet Laureate might mark Westwood’s upcoming quasquicentennial (125th anniversary) with a poem that captures the life, essence, and identity of this community in the year 2023.
Poets have commemorated the history of the nation, the state, the city, for decades. For example,
Robert Frost, “The Gift Outright,” inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, 1961.
Maya Angelou, “On the Pulse of Morning," first inauguration of President Bill Clinton,1993
Miller Williams, “Of History and Hope” at the second inauguration of President Bill Clinton, 1997
Richard Blanco, “One Today,” second inauguration of President Barack Obama, 2013
Amanda Gorman, “The Hill We Climb,” inauguration of President Joe Biden, 2021
When we lack words for how we are feeling, what we have accomplished, what we are proud of, or where we want to go, poets can create something that unites us as a community.
She is a lecturer emerita in the Writing Program at Wellesley College, where she taught in the Writing Program for three decades. Previously, she taught high school English and creative writing in Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts, and in the College of General Studies at Boston University.
Viti is the author of two full-length poetry collections, The Walk to Cefalù (Cornerstone Press 2022), Dancing at Lake Montebello (Apprentice House, 2020), two poetry chapbooks, Baltimore Girls (2017) and The Glamorganshire Bible (2018) all from Finishing Line Press and a short story collection, Going Too Fast (2020).
Beginning March 29th, 2023- June 14th, 2023
Every other Wednesday: 10AM-12PM, Conference room, Main Library.
Have a question? Want to learn more about poetry? Lynne will have open office hours at the Main Library on Wednesdays between 10am-12pm in the first floor conference room and by appointment. She can also be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Position Description – Youth Poet Laureate of Westwood
WHAT DOES THIS POSITION ENTAIL?
The Select Board of the Town of Westwood, Massachusetts established the position of Youth Poet Laureate in February 2023, to work in harmony with the town’s Poet Laureate to promote and celebrate poetry in the Westwood community.
Like the position of Poet Laureate, that of Youth Poet Laureate is largely ceremonial. The individual appointed to be Youth Poet Laureate will have the opportunity to bring poetry to citizens of Westwood at all levels, from the very young to elders. The Youth Poet Laureate must have had some experience writing poetry and a desire to write and share even more poetry, during the year-long term.
Mentored by the town’s Poet Laureate, the Youth Poet Laureate will celebrate the community through the reading of original poems at community occasions such as Westwood Day, government holidays and at library and school poetry programs, including the town-wide poetry reading for National Poetry Month, and the Westwood High School poetry slam. Poems by the Youth Poet Laureate will be posted on the town library’s website, and in posters in the main library and the Islington Branch Library. The Youth Poet Laureate may also represent the town of Westwood at literary events outside the town and at Youth Poet Laureate competitions in New England and nationally.
At the completion of their year-long term, the Youth Poet Laureate will be given a gift card to a local independent bookstore.
The term for the first Youth Poet Laureate will begin in May 2023 and run through May of 2024.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO APPLY TO BE WESTWOOD’S YOUTH POET LAUREATE?
To be eligible, you must meet these requirements:
Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It's that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what
you really think, making the private world public, that's what the poet does. — Allen Ginsberg
(1) You must be a resident of Westwood for at least one year prior to the time you apply for the position, and if appointed to the position of Youth Poet Laureate, you must still be living in Westwood for your term as Youth Poet Laureate,
(2) if a non-resident of Westwood, you must be a student enrolled in a Westwood school for at least a year, in grade 8 through 11 when you apply, and attending a Westwood school by the first day of the 2023-2024 academic year.
If appointed to the Position of Youth Poet Laureate,
- you must continue to be a student in Westwood during your term as Youth Poet Laureate.
- You must be in ninth, tenth, eleventh or twelfth grade as of the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year
- You must display a strong commitment to the community.
- You must meet with the Poet Laureate at the library periodically to collaborate on poetry program planning and execution.
- You must be willing and able to fulfill the duties of the position enthusiastically.
HOW DO I APPLY? WHEN IS THE DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS?
All applications must be sent via email, by midnight, Friday, April 7, 2023, to the Westwood Poet Laureate, Dr. Lynne Viti, email@example.com. Late applications will not be considered.
To apply for this position, prepare and submit the following documents all together at the same time, in the same email transmission. All applications must be in Word .doc, Word .docx or PDF format.
Label your files with your last name, first initial and the designation cover ltr; writ sample; refs as appropriate.
Jones, S coverltr
Jones, S writ sample Jones, S refs
1. A cover letter (no more than one page long) with your name; postal address; email address; phone number; the name of the school where you will be enrolled as of 9/1/2023; a paragraph or two stating your interest and your experience to date in writing and studying poetry, as well as your reasons for applying for this position; the following statement: “I am the sole author of the cover letter contents and all poems in my writing sample.”
2. A writing sample of no more than five pages of your original poetry, with your name on each page after the poem, one poem to a page,12 pt. type, Times New Roman or Arial typeface. Number the pages of your writing sample
At the bottom left, center or right.
The poems should be single spaced except for stanza breaks, and the words arranged on the page as you would want them to appear in a magazine or book.
3. The names and contact phone numbers and email addresses for two references (outside of your family), at least one of whom is familiar with your poetry. The other reference should be qualified to comment specifically on your contributions to the community, your academic work outside of creative writing, and your ability to follow through on projects. Be sure to let your references know you are providing their names and contact information in your application.
4. All your documents must be submitted as attachments in PDF or Word (.doc or .docx) format and transmitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Youth Poet Laureate selection committee expects to make a recommendation to the Select Board on the choice of candidate by the end of April.
Questions? Email Poet Laureate Lynne Viti email@example.com