Recently my friend and fellow poet, Billy Jones, issued a call to poets from all states without an official Poet Laureate to look up and listen. Every state should have a poet with this honorable title. A bit of research revealed Pa's Governor Casey founded the position in 1993 (appointing Samuel Hazo, Pa's one and only Poet Laureate) and in 2003 Governor Rendell abolished it, proclaiming rather that all Pa's poets should share the title. What kind of gibberish is that? To be Poet Laureate is a matter of individual honor and achievement. Since the office disappeared along with its parent department (office of cultural adviser to the governor), it sets me to wondering if perhaps Pa's Poet Laureate was merely a victim of budget concerns along with that office, and it was felt the money could be spent more productively elsewhere. Who knows?
But I do know this, poetry is a magical addition to life. It lifts the soul with words better than a song lyric. It activates the imagination with colors and sounds. It stimulates the intellect with astounding turns of phrase. Poetry is a quiet giver, deserving of love and respect. And in that vein, Pennsylvanians should know the honor of boasting of their own Poet Laureate.
That being said, since PA has seen fit to relinquish its interest in having an official Poet Laureate, I, like my friend, hereby declare myself to be Poet Laureate of PA™. I'm going to register the title as my trademark and keep the magic alive. I'm not expecting to be writing speeches for the Governor, but a word to the wise in Harrisburg. One man's junk is another man's treasure.
Jo Janoski, Poet Laureate of Pennsylvania™ 2007
Addendum: Many thanks to Billy for this and this.