Poet Laureate Announced!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 30, 2020
Contact: Michelle Laflamme-Childs New Mexico Arts
Phone: (505) 827-6490, statewide: (800) 879-4278
Levi Romero Named New Mexico’s First Poet Laureate
(Santa Fe, New Mexico) New Mexico Arts and the New Mexico State Library, both divisions of the Department of Cultural Affairs, are excited to announce the selection of Levi Romero of Albuquerque as the state’s inaugural Poet Laureate. His first act as Poet Laureate will be to read a poem during Library Legislative Day at the Roundhouse on January 31.
“I am very excited about the selection of Levi Romero as New Mexico’s first state poet laureate,” said Sen. Bill O’Neill of Albuquerque, sponsor of the legislation that funded the Poet Laureate program and a poet himself. “His poetry has won national recognition, and as a native New Mexican he has manifested his commitment to our state by his long teaching career. We are truly blessed to have Mr. Romero as our inaugural state poet laureate.”
Romero has published two collections of poetry – A Poetry of Remembrance: New and Rejected Works and In the Gathering of Silence. He’s also the co-author of the book Sagrado: A Photopoetics Across the Chicano Homeland, written with Spencer R. Herrera.
Romero’s work has received numerous awards and accolades, including two Society for Humanistic Anthropology Poetry Award Honorable Mentions in 2017, an International Latino Book Award in 2015, two Southwest Book Awards in 2014 and 2015, a New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, named a finalist for the Writers’ League of Texas Book Award, and received recognition for Best Books of the Southwest. He was selected as New Mexico’s Centennial Poet in 2012.
Romero was chosen from four New Mexico poets nominated for the position of Poet Laureate. The criteria for selection included quality of poetry, language and oral facility, suitability of work for civic celebration, literary recognition, engagement in past projects that involve poetry and other experiences related to poetry.
The Poet Laureate selection committee composed of Valerie Martinez, poet and Director of History and Literary Arts at the National Hispanic Cultural Center; poet and artist Anne MacNaughton, co-founder of SOMOS, the Taos Poetry Circus and the Poet Education Project; and Eileen Sullivan, director of the Los Alamos Library. The three other nominees were Jimmy Santiago Baca, Lauren Camp and Manuel Gonzalez.
The three-year position of Poet Laureate includes an annual stipend of $25,000, travel and printing expenses, and part-time staff support. The position will support literacy and enhance education while promoting arts enrichment across the state. Through speaking engagements statewide and programs at schools and libraries, the poet will engage all New Mexicans with poetry. They will also document their travels via web journal and podcast.
Originally from the Embudo Valley in northern New Mexico, Romero is an assistant professor in the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department at the University of New Mexico, where he directs the New Mexico Cultural Landscapes Certificate program and the Digital Cuentos project.
New Mexico Arts is the state arts agency that administers the state’s One Percent for Public Art program, awards grants to nonprofit organizations for arts and cultural programs in their communities across the state, and provides technical assistance and educational opportunities for organizations, artists, and arts educators throughout New Mexico.
The New Mexico State Library provides services that support public and tribal libraries, delivers direct library services to rural populations, state agencies, the visually impaired and physically disabled, and students and citizens conducting research.