Poet Laureate Program Transitions To Arts Council Of Greater Lansing

Poet Laureate Masaki Takahashi at Arts Night Out

Poet Laureate Program Transitions to Arts Council of Greater Lansing

Paves the Way for Business Ecosystem Initiatives While Continuing its Legacy

By Lansing Economic Area Partnership

The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) is transitioning the Lansing Poet Laureate program to the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, allowing LEAP to focus on vital business ecosystem initiatives.

In 2017, LEAP started the Poet Laureate program in partnership with the Residential College for Arts and Humanities (RCAH) Center for Poetry at Michigan State University (MSU) and the Lansing Poetry Club. The program engages the tri-county region in the literary arts to promote poetry as an art form, expand access to the literary arts, connect the community to poetry and showcase poetry as a literary voice that contributes to a greater sense of place, which supports the attraction of global talent and business.

“LEAP remains committed to fostering a strong and vibrant place as possible. This transition of the program will allow LEAP to focus its resources on initiatives such as childcare, housing, and public transit that businesses are eagerly awaiting. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to our Lansing Poet Laureate founding partners and our appreciation to the Arts Council for taking the reins of this program and propelling it to new heights of achievement,” said Bob Trezise, president and CEO at LEAP.

“The Arts Council has had a long and successful partnership with LEAP over the years, working together to make public art happen in the Lansing region,” said Meghan Martin, executive director of the Arts Council.

“The program is a unique extension to the creative placemaking movement in our region; it brings poets and lovers of words together in the community, and we are proud to be the administrators of this program going forward. It aligns with our mission to support, strengthen and promote arts, culture and creativity in the Capital Region, and we are excited to see it grow and expand in the coming years.”

The current regional Laureate, Masaki Takahashi began his term in April 2022. Throughout his term, Takahashi has organized workshops and performances at various educational institutions, including k-12 schools, Michigan State University, Lansing Community College, and Olivet College. Notably, the program featured renowned national poets such as Rudy Francisco, Ebony Stewart, Natasha T. Miller, Siaara Freeman. As he looks ahead to the future, Takahashi is preparing for the second iteration of the Lansing Poetry Festival in collaboration with the Capital Area District Library.

“It has been an honor to creatively engage the community with poetry. We want to give people a platform to tell their story and to  highlight the vibrant community we are building in the Lansing region,” said Masaki Takahashi, 2022 Lansing poet laureate.

In 2019, longtime Lansing resident and associate professor of literacy and curriculum at Michigan State University’s College of Education, Laura Apol, was selected as the second Lansing Poet Laureate. Ten months into Apol’s term, the COVID-19 pandemic became a challenge for Apol to carry out the Laureate’s duties. “During a time of extreme isolation and anxiety, by virtue of the position, I was able to pivot and create online events that brought together poets, poetry lovers, and not-yet-poets to write and read and share and connect. That, to me, is evidence of the sustaining power of poetry, and an important reason to celebrate and to maintain the poet laureate position.” said Dr. Laura Apol, 2019 Lansing poet laureate.

Dennis Hinrichsen was selected as the Inaugural Lansing Poet Laureate in 2017. Hinrichsen is a long-time Lansing resident and retired professor of English at Lansing Community College. Dennis’s well-known project during his tenure was the Lansing Sidewalk Poetry Project, which included poems etched into the sidewalks.

“On a personal level, serving as the inaugural regional Lansing Poet Laureate was the highlight of my writing career. It was a joy bringing this most portable of art forms—poetry—into the tri-county area and helping students and adults share their stories and celebrate the diversity of our lives in this shared space we call home. Bravo to LEAP for its stewardship these last six years and bravo to the Arts Council for carrying this important program forward,” said Dennis Hinrichsen, 2017 Lansing poet laureate emeritus.

“The Lansing Poetry Club is honored to be a supporter of the Lansing Poet Laureate project and excited about its potential to strengthen the human voice and deepen our understanding of one another,” said Ruelaine Stokes, president of the Lansing Poetry Club.

“The RCAH Center for Poetry at MSU is thrilled with the impact of the Lansing Poet Laureate program. This program has significantly increased community engagement with poetry, and we’re grateful to Bob Trezise and LEAP for their support. We’re excited to continue this program with the Arts Council of Greater Lansing,” said Laurie Hollinger, acting director at RCAH Center for Poetry at MSU.

The Lansing Poet Laureate program has significantly increased community engagement with poetry and will continue under ACGL’s stewardship. This transition to the Arts Council will take this program to new heights.

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