City celebrates inaugural poet laureate

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URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — The city celebrated its inaugural poet laureate Wednesday, July 10.

Will Reger will serve as poet laureate for one year. Reger, who earned a Ph.D. in History from the University of Illinois, was chosen by a panel of literary experts. He will receive a $2,000 honorarium for his term, funded by the City of Urbana’s Arts and Culture Program.

At a reception held at Analog Wine Library in Urbana, Reger read three of his poems.

“My poetry is very much focused on the natural world,” Reger said. “But also, there’s a little bit of humor in it, sometimes very dark.”

Reger said he likes writing in free-verse style, but also enjoys experimenting with various forms of poetry.

“I actually came up with my own form,” he said. “I call it the ‘bandaikuet.'”

He said its elements include the haiku and sonnet.

Reger is looking forward to serving as poet laureate.

“I see myself as something of a facilitator,” he explained. “Someone who will work with others to bring people together and help them enjoy poetry or grow their own talent.”

Reger said he plans to host a listening session on July 31st so he can gather ideas from community members. The location of the meeting has not been chosen yet.

Urbana’s Arts and Culture Coordinator, Rachel Storm, said the poet laureate program will strengthen the city’s arts scene.

“We know that Urbana has a really vibrant poetry and arts scene,” she said. “We have a wide variety of poetry groups in our area. We have wonderful open mic nights and we have a strong community.”

She said the literary panel chose Reger as the inaugural laureate because of his educational programming.

“Will in general also has quite a passion for poetry, and came with strong recommendations from the poetry community.”

Mayor Diane Marlin presented Reger with a certificate at Wednesday’s reception. She highlighted Reger’s focus on educating young people, and said poetry “will help them say what they need to say in as many ways as possible.”

To learn more about Reger and the poet laureate program, click here.

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