Poet Laureate

Building Community Through Poetry

Are You the Next Lansing Poet Laureate?

The Lansing poet laureate program was created to bring poetry to the Greater Lansing community in a way that engages and inspires them and allows them to perceive poetry from new perspectives. Its goal is to expand access to the literary arts and center poetry as a vehicle for community building and creating a sense of place. The program was launched in 2017 by the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) with support from the Lansing Poetry Club and RCAH Center for Poetry at Michigan State University. In 2023, the program transitioned to the Arts Council of Greater Lansing who administers the program with continued sponsorship from LEAP.

What is a poet laureate?

The Lansing poet laureate is an advocate and ambassador for poetry who works to break down barriers and reframe traditional assumptions about poetry, presenting it as a medium of creative expression that gives a voice to all and has no boundaries. The laureate engages the region’s residents through the offering of accessible workshops and readings that illustrate how poetry belongs to everyone and can live anywhere. Through their work, the laureate supports Greater Lansing’s commitment to fostering a creative environment that encourages collaboration, innovation and community participation that helps our community grow and flourish. 

Apply to be the next Lansing poet laureate!

How to submit an application or nomination?

Applicants 18 years of age and older who reside in the Greater Lansing region (Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties) and who meet all of the application criteria are invited to apply to the Poet Laureate Program. Complete guidelines and requirements are listed below. Community members are also invited to submit a nomination for poet laureate using the below form.

Applications accepted twice a year

The Lansing Poet Laureate Program is currently closed. Terms are two years long and begin in April. We will be accepting applications in 2025 for the 2026-2028 poet laureate term.

What are the Lansing poet laureate’s roles and responsibilities?

During each year of their two-year term the poet laureate will:

  • Read poems at up to three ceremonial City events, including the poet laureate announcement celebration, the Mayor’s State of the City address and other events as coordinated by the City. 
  • Give five public readings that are free and open to all, these may include visits to schools, events for young people, public presentations, poetry open mic events, etc to engage our communities with poetry and the literary arts and inspire a greater appreciation of poetry as creative expression.
  • Offer a minimum of three instructional poetry workshops (at least one workshop in each county)
  • Produce one original poem inspired by, or related to, Greater Lansing

NOTE: Complete requirements are listed in the official guidelines

How is the Poet Laureate selected?

The poet laureate selection process is rigorous and transparent and seeks to be accessible and equitable for all. Applications are submitted through an online platform to ensure consistency and accuracy. Applications are reviewed by a panel of five to six distinguished community members with expertise in education, poetry, civic and cultural leadership and the literary arts. The panel reviews and scores all applications using a rubric that utilizes a point system and specific criteria. Final candidates will be selected and interviewed by the panel who will then submit their selection of laureate to the Arts Council. See the selection criteria here.

Who is Lansing’s current Poet Laureate?


Ruelaine Stokes, Lansing Poet Laureate 2024-2026

Ruelaine Stokes is a writer, teacher and performance artist based in Lansing, Michigan. She gives poetry readings, lectures and facilitates workshops on poetry, spoken word and creative writing. Ruelaine has a remarkable ability to bring poetry to life and to bring people to poetry.  She is a gifted teacher who opens new doors for students in workshops that abound with creativity and laughter. For many years, she has organized poetry performances, readings, open mic events and workshops within Mid-Michigan. Ruelaine has a bachelor's degree in English literature from Stanford University, a master's in English literature from Michigan State University and a master's  in teaching from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont. She worked for many years teaching English as a Second Language—at Michigan State University, Lansing Community College and in community ESL programs. She also taught classes in English literature, poetry, women’s history and writing. She recently published a collection of her work titled "Jar of Plenty."  She is also the current president of the Lansing Poetry Club and sits on the board of the Ten Pound Fiddle. Learn more.

Who are Lansing’s former Poets Laureate?

Masaki Takahashi


From 2022-2024, Masaki served as the Lansing-area Poet Laureate, providing workshops and performing at area events.  His nonfprofit, open mic, The Poetry Room, served as a space for him to welcome emerging and popular poets from around the region and beyond. He continues to be a strong voice for poetry in the region.


Laura Apol, Ph.D.


From 2019-2021, Laura served as the Lansing-area Poet Laureate. Her term started at the onset of COVID, and as a result, the internet became her stage and her classroom. During her term,  she worked with area poets, having them record themselves reading a poem, and shared one daily on Facebook. She continues to be active in the region's poetry and spoken-word circles.


Dennis Hinrichsen


From May 2017 - April 2019, Dennis served as the first Poet Laureate of Greater Lansing. Dennis worked all over the region providing workshops and mentoring area poets. In 2019, he collaborated with the Lansing Poetry Center and area poets to create permanent engraved sidewalk poetry installations around the city.


Who do I contact for more information about the Poet Laureate program?

For more information about the Lansing Poet Laureate Program, please contact Meghan Martin, executive director, by email at or Dawn Gorman, communications manager, by email at