The Reporter's Notebook Podcast, Ep. 37: New Mexico Poet Laureates

Damien D. Willis
Las Cruces Sun-News
Lauren Camp, New Mexico's second Poet Laureate

In this week’s episode, we’re doing something a little different. We’re talking poetry. Specifically, we’re talking about the role of New Mexico’s Poet Laureate. But first, a little history.

In 2014, companion memorials in the New Mexico House and Senate requested that the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs develop a "New Mexico Poet Laureate position and program to foster a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry and to highlight the importance of poetry in the everyday life of ordinary and extraordinary people to the creation of the New Mexico Poet Laureate position." 

Lack of funding, however, prevented the recommendation from being implemented.

Ultimately, SB 536 of the 2019 Regular Session of the New Mexico Legislature — signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on April 5, 2019 — allocated $107,000 to the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs for the creation of a state poet laureate program. On January 30, 2020, Albuquerque poet Levi Romero was appointed New Mexico's inaugural Poet Laureate.

Read more: A Poetry of Remembrance: Read New Mexico's inaugural Poet Laureate Levi Romero's poem

This made New Mexico the 46th state to offer an official state poet or state writer position.

Dr. Levi Romero, a professor in the the Chicano Studies program at the University of New Mexico.

Romero served as New Mexico Poet Laureate until Sept. 1 of this year, when Lauren Camp was named as the state’s second poet laureate. This week, we’re honored to be joined by both Levi and Lauren, who will talk about the role, the importance of poetry in everyday life, and the reward that comes from promoting literacy in the state.

Damien Willis is a Lead Reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News. He can be reached at 575-541-5443, or @DamienWillis on Twitter.

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