“Confessions of a Poet Laureate”

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“I don’t know if you are aware of this, but our poet laureates are not called upon to write occasional poems. The position is privately endowed—originally from a fund set up by industrialist scion Arthur M. Huntington in 1936—since it is unimaginable that the Congress of the United States would ever agree to part with a penny for the purpose of promoting poetry. The Republicans, especially, are always worried that someone in the arts is undermining the religious and family values of our country. They suspect poets of being subversives, free-thinkers, sex-fiends, and drug addicts. Their fears are not entirely without foundation. There have not been many American poets, living or dead, you’d want to bring home to meet your grandmother or have speak to your Bible study group.”

Charles Simic at the NYRB blog on why he decided to be poet laureate and the role of poetry in the U.S.

He ends with this thought: “There’s nothing more interesting or more hopeful about America than its poetry.”


Seth Fischer's writing has appeared in Best Sex Writing 2013, Buzzfeed, PankGuernica, Lunch Ticket, Gertrude, and elsewhere. His Rumpus piece "Notes from a Unicorn" was listed as a notable essay in The Best American Essays 2013. He will be a 2014 Lambda Literary Emerging Voicing Fellow and was a 2013 Jentel Arts Residency Program Fellow. He also teaches at Antioch University Los Angeles and Writing Workshops Los Angeles. Find more writing of his writing at www.seth-fischer.com, or reach him @sethfischer. More from this author →