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 which will administer the program with continued sponsorship from LEAP.
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 by offering 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.
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.
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
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.
Masaki Takahashi is the 2022-2024 Lansing Poet Laureate.
Masaki Takahashi grew up in the Lansing area and is an alumnus of Okemos Public Schools, Michigan State University, Lansing Community College and Davenport University. He is the founder and host of The Poetry Room Open Mic, a popular and dynamic spoken word series established in 2017 and held at the Robin Theatre in Lansing’s REO Town. Masaki provides poetry workshops in area schools and is a highly skilled and compelling performer. His poetry has been featured in prominent journals, and he regularly competes in national poetry and spoken word competitions. His work and influence on the Greater Lansing poetry community has been profiled in the Lansing State Journal, and City Pulse, recognizing his contributions to the community and his leadership in building a powerful poetry culture in Lansing.
For more information about the Lansing Poet Laureate Program, please contact Meghan Martin, executive director, by email at email@example.com or Dawn Gorman, communications manager, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.