Ends on September 3, 2018


Mayor Martin J. Walsh has announced a distinguished group to act as a search committee for Boston’s next poet laureate. The poet laureate program, established in 2008, was started to highlight literary arts, and to promote appreciation for poetry. The Poet Laureate’s challenge is to inspire deeper engagement in the written and spoken word. 

The City’s poet laureate acts as an advocate for poetry, language and the arts, and creates a unique artistic legacy through public readings and civic events. She, he, or they will also attend a variety of civic functions, participate in poetry events, and oversee special civic projects. The mission for the laureateship is to raise the status of poetry in the everyday consciousness of Bostonians.

The Poet Laureate is a ceremonial and not a political appointment, the Poet Laureate will be a significant fixture in Boston's cultural and artistic arena. She, her, or they will be able to learn, teach, and be a part of the great literary traditions of Boston.

Details on how to submit work for the Poet Laureate position appear below. 


The Poet Laureate will be expected to:

  • Present appropriate works at civic events and attend official functions as a literary ambassador.
  • Enhance current Boston Public School and Boston Public Library poetry programs through engagement and outreach.
  • Act as the juror for the Mayor’s Poetry Program at City Hall.
  • Act as a resource during National Poetry Month each April.
  • Act as a resource for City of Boston Youth Poet Laureate, a position currently being developed.


Applicants must: 

  • Be at least 21 years of age.
  • Have resided in the City of Boston for a minimum of one year prior to nomination.
  • Display a strong commitment to the community.
  • Be active as a professional poet (i.e. a poet whose work has been published and or presented through a process of independent editorial or curatorial review).
  • Be able and enthusiastic to fulfill duties.
  • Have produced work that:
    • Demonstrates poetic flexibility (i.e. more than one style),
    • Reflects the vibrancy and life of the City of Boston, and
    • Is significant to the citizens of Boston.

NOTE: The committee welcomes candidates regardless of race, gender, belief, national origin, sexual orientation or physical ability.

Term of Service

The recommended term of service for the Poet Laureate is four years, based on the calendar year. A Poet Laureate may serve a maximum of two consecutive terms (eight years) at the Mayor’s discretion. If the Poet Laureate cannot fulfill his/her term due to illness, relocation, or inability to perform, the Laureate Selection Panel shall select a new Poet Laureate to complete the term.


The Poet Laureate will be compensated at no cost to the City. An endowment from private foundations sustains this program. The Poet Laureate will receive $5,000 each year to be allocated in the following ways:

  1. Honorarium will total $2,000 per year.
  2. Programmatic and administrative expenses will total $3,000 per year and will be administered by the Mayor’s Office of Arts & Culture.

Entry Rules

Candidates may self-nominate or be nominated. Applications must include the following:

  • A curriculum vitae or résumé;
  • Four examples of past published work (may include compact disc recordings and audio files);
  • A proposal, no longer than four pages, that details how the laureate will benefit, represent, and interact with the citizens of Boston, in accordance with the poet laureate mission statement.
  • Proof of City of Boston residency. 

NOTE: Digital entries preferred, but you may also mail in printed entries, as directed below: All entries must be submitted in a conventional font (such as Times New Roman) at 12-point size.  

Do not place name or address on works of poetry. Photocopied poems from publications are acceptable, however, name and/or address cannot be included. Do not staple documents. If return of materials is desired, enclose a self-addressed envelope with sufficient postage. Faxed or Emailed applications will NOT be accepted.

For those submitting mailed applications, please address to:

The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture

Attn:  Poet Laureate Selection Panel

Boston City Hall, Room 802

One City Hall Plaza

Boston, MA 02201

Submissions - both digital and printed - will be accepted beginning June 12, 2018.

Selection Process

A Call for Entries will be distributed through various print and online media. Eligible applicants will submit a résumé or curriculum vitae; examples of past-published work; a four-page maximum proposal describing how the applicant will enhance the City of Boston’s literary arts; and confirmation of residence. 

The selection process will consist of two-phases. After an initial screening of eligible applicants, the Laureate Selection Panel will evaluate all entries and choose its top candidates. Selection Panel will then hold interviews with the final candidates. During the interview, candidates may be asked to read some of their works, along with answering questions related to how they will make use of the Poet Laureateship.


Submissions must be received by 11:59 pm on Monday, September 3rd, 2018. Please note: this is not a postmark date.


Applicants receiving an interview with the Selection Panel will be notified by late October 2018. A final decision will be made by mid November 2018, with an official announcement held during the second week of December 2018 .

Intellectual Property

All writings, notes, and original materials produced by the Laureate (as distinct from the poet) during the tenure of the Poet Laureate shall remain the property of the Poet Laureate. However, the City of Boston will have the right to reproduce these works.


For further information, contact Tom Johnston, the Mayor’s Office of Arts & Culture at 617.635.1238 or thomas.johnston@boston.gov.