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Council News Release

8/1/2007  3:10:00 PM
Frank Video, Licata Office, (206) 684-8849

Council President Nick Licata

Art and democracy don't have to be separate

SEATTLE A record 16 arts organizations have nominated poets for the post of Seattle's Poet Populist, a city-wide program now in its seventh election. Polls are open 24/7 at Voting ends at 5pm, Wednesday, August 15th.

Among the candidates are a two-time National Poetry Series finalist, a Stranger Genius Award winner, a grandmother, a teacher, an insurance administrator, a community college teacher, and a doctor.

Candidates were nominated by organizations from the large (Seattle Arts & Lectures) to the small (from the ground up); and from the strictly-literary (826 Seattle) to the multi-genre (the McLeod Residence). Any group that supports or promotes literary arts in Seattle was eligible to nominate a poet. Poets had to be residents of Seattle. The full roster of nominees and the organizations that nominated them can be found at

It is hard to imagine a better slate of candidates. said Council President Nick Licata, founder of the Poet Populist program. I am tempted to vote for them all! The elections top four vote-getters will be invited to read at Bumbershoot on September 2. There, the winner will be announced and inaugurated with a $500 prize and the mandate to make public appearances for one year, and write an official poem for the City of Seattle. Votes are accepted from all residents of Seattle, one per person.

The Seattle Channel will soon post videos of candidate readings. One was held at the Central Library on July 15th and the other at Richard Hugo House on July 23rd. These videos will allow you to see, hear, and evaluate each poets performance. Any day now, you should be able to find those videos by visiting and typing the words poet populist into the Video Search box toward the bottom of the page.

About the Poet Populist program

The Poet Populist programnow in its seventh electionsupports creative public thinking, articulate leadership, and the practice of democracy. It proposes that artists can be part of the civic discourse, and that the civic discourse can be artistically inclined.

Unlike Poet Laureate programs, for which dignitaries or government officials select a poet, Seattle conducts a city-wide popular vote to determine who can speak as the Voice of the Peoplethe Poet Populist.

The Poet Populist, once elected, is charged with promoting the principals of populist poetic expression when performing in and around the City, providing public education in poetry and authoring an original poem for inclusion in the Citys archives at the conclusion of his or her one-year term.

The Poet Populist Program was founded by the office of City Council President Nick Licata in 1999, and is supported by resolution of the Seattle City Council. Past Poets Populist have included Bernard Harris, Jr., Bart Baxter, Tara Hardy, Pesha Joyce Gertler, and current Poet Populist Jourdan Imani Keith.

The Poet Populist Program is a program of Eleventh Hour Productions and Ampersand Arts, with support in 2007 by the City of Seattle, the Seattle Public Library, and Bumbershoot.

For information, contact, or


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