Seattle Poet Populist
During the election for the 2009 Poet Populist, over twenty-five hundred votes were cast - a 50% increase over last year - for 13 nominated candidates and 14 write-ins. Candidates staged readings and participated in guerilla poetry events, radio interviews, conversations and classes throughout Seattle in the runup to the election.
The winner is Mike Hickey, who garnered 461 votes. Click here to listen to his July 2009 interview on KUOW FM radio. Interestingly, the 2nd place finisher received just 100 fewer votes, even though he was a write-in candidate.
Mike was nominated by Its About Time Reading Series, one of 13 Seattle nominating organizations, which included among others the Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas, Seattle Youth Speaks, the Washington Poets Association, Jack Straw Productions, Vital 5 Productions, and Arts Corp.
For more information on the Seattle Poet Populist, click on the Poet Populist graphic.
What is a "Poet Populist", you ask?
The 2nd College Edition of the American Heritage Dictionary defines a laureate as one who receives highest honors. A Poet Populist, rather than being anointed by a bureaucrat, official, or committee, is made possible by a popular vote of the people.
The role of Poet Populist for Seattle originated in 1999. As a follow-up to my 1998 Neighborhood Arts Conference, I sponsored the Seattle Neighborhood Arts Celebration (SNAC) to augment Neighborhood Appreciation Day on February 13th, 1999. 23 poets and performers performed in the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall in the Benaroya Symphony Hall for over 500 attendees. A dozen neighborhood arts groups exhibited in the lobby. Attendees to the SNAC as well as the general public cast ballots and elected Seattle's first Poet Populist, Barnard Harris, Jr.
I am promoting this unique poetry program to other cities, encouraging them to institute a Poet Populist election of their own. If you happen to represent a literary organization or are a literary program producer and you believe this program has merit, I encourage you to do the same.
In the mean time, we can enjoy the distinction of having instituted the world's first Poet Populist program.