Poet Laureate

Check this site after April 15 for news about the next Youth Poet Laureate for school year 2004-2005.

APPLICATIONS FOR  THE NEXT YOUTH POET LAUREATE ARE NOW CLOSED.

 

Lynne Viti

 

Lynne Viti was appointed Westwood’s inaugural poet laureate by the Westwood  Select Board in February 2023, for a term of two years. Viti is a teacher, poet, fiction writer and community advocate for poetry. 

As part of her mission to bring poetry to every corner of Westwood, Lynne Viti produces events that bring poets into the town’s public school classrooms, designs and facilitates poetry workshops for adults, including the ongoing Tuesday Poetry Workshop at the Westwood Library and  programs at the Council on Aging, the annual town-wide Poetry Reading and Open Mic in April, and in collaboration  with teachers and staff, produces a spoken word poetry slam at Westwood High School during April, National Poetry Month.  Viti also recites an original poem at official town occasions such as Memorial Day and Westwood Day.

Photo Credit Richard Howard   

Viti mentors and collaborates on poetry events with  the town’s Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate, a position also established by the Select Board in Spring 2023. This academic year’s Youth Poet Laureate is Lucie Sechler, Westwood Class of 2023. The duo’s major 2024 event, supported by a grant from the Mass. Cultural Council and the Westwood Library, was a Children’s Poetry Festival presented during February school vacation week. The headliner poet was the acclaimed Cuban - American poet Richard Blanco, who read from his memoir and poetry, took questions from the audience, and signed books for attendees.

Poet Richard Blanco with Westwood Poet Laureate Lynne Viti at the Children's Poetry Festival, Westwood Library, February  22, 2024. Photo credit: Darlene Cancell

 

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 Miriam Chaikin Writing Award, the WMOR/Joe Gouveia Outermost Poetry Contest, Fish Publishing Poetry Contest, Glimmer Train Short Fiction Contest, 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. 


The Poet Laureate and the Youth Poet Laureate positions are sponsored by a gift from the  Westwood Public Library's 21st Century Fund. The Westwood Cultural Council and the Massachusetts Cultural Council have also granted funding for programs and initiatives facilitated by the Poet Laureate. 

 

Visit Lynne's Blog

Contact the Poet Laureate


May will be Westwood inaugural Youth poet Laureate Lucie Sechler's last month of service, and this is her final poem of the month for her term.
In the poem, the speaker looks ahead to what attending college in Dublin, Ireland might be like, and how she might welcome friends who visit her there.
Thanks to Lucie for her poems, her work in producing the Children's Festival of Poetry last February, and her enthusiasm for   spreading poetry in Westwood.
--Lynne Viti, Westwood Poet Laureate.
 


 

*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 lviti@wellesley.edu for information. I’d be delighted to come and read and do a Q &A for you!

Watch the videorecording of the before the phrase Town-Wide Poetry Reading and Open Mic at the Library
and link the phrase W.atch the videorecording to this Westwood Media Center video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MGbBAebwk0

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).