The city is looking for its 4th poet laureate



The City of Arlington is seeking its fourth Poet Laureate.

The term of Steven Ratiner, who has held the position since 2019 and is known for his long series Red Letter Poems, has expired.

John Burt, Chair of the Poets Laureate Committee, is looking for “a dynamic and motivated individual” for a three-year term. The winner acts as the city’s leading poetic voice and poetry ambassador, encouraging the reading and writing of poetry throughout Arlington.

This position, which receives an annual stipend of $750, aims to enrich the lives of residents by sharing and promoting poetry through conversation, readings, public appearances and workshops. Previous applicants are encouraged to apply. Applications will be due no later than Monday, October 31.

You can apply for the position electronically here >>

To apply by post, submit your documents – the application, your CV/curriculum vitae, poetry samples and other additional information – postmarked or hand-delivered no later than October 31 to the office of the Select Board, Arlington Town Hall, 730 Mass. Ave., Arlington MA 02476, or hand-deliver to the Select Board Office, Second Floor, City Hall.

Hard copies of nomination materials can also be picked up at the City Manager’s Office, Board of Directors’ Office and Robbins Library.

For more details and answers to questions, email John Burt at This email address is protected from spam. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Previous winners were Cathie Desjardins and Miriam Levine.

Who can apply

  • The City of Arlington Poet Laureate Committee embraces the diversity of human experience and identity. All applications are welcome, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, cultural heritage, socio-economic background or physical ability. The applicant must be at least 18 years old. Applicant must reside in Arlington. Must be available to perform the duties of the position as defined by Article 13 of the 2014 City Assembly: (see appendix for text of article ‘article). Previous applicants are encouraged to apply.


Criteria for candidates and nominations

  • Applicant must show evidence of accomplishments in the art of poetry, including publications (books, literary magazines, and/or digital media).
  • Additional weight will be given to applicants who have received recognition or awards.
  • The nominee must demonstrate excellence in promoting awareness or enjoyment of poetry.
  • Applicant must be able and available to reach a city-wide audience.

Candidacy/nomination requirements

The following items are required as part of the application:

1. A one-page cover letter that includes the applicant’s contact information.

2. A work sample no larger than six (6) pages, 8 ½ x 11, no less than 12 point font, no more than one poem on each page. The work sample may contain information that indicates where the poem was published or performed, or if it received any awards for merit.

3. The candidate’s curriculum vitae must not exceed two (2) pages.

4. Suggestions of what the nominee hopes to accomplish during their term as Poet Laureate (up to two pages).

5. (Optional) Up to two (2) pages of additional material, including excerpts from published book reviews, judges’ comments, or other critical writing that helps contextualize the poet’s work for the committee.

To complete the application, submit this online form or completed applications should be mailed to the City Manager’s Office, 730 Massachusetts Avenue Arlington MA 02476, postmarked faith before October 31, 2022, or hand-delivered no later than noon that day.

Selection process

1. The committee reviews all submitted materials to arrive at three (3) finalists.

2. The three (3) finalists are interviewed in person by the Committee.

3. The committee presents its best candidate, based on the application files and the interviews, to the board of selectors.

4. The committee will recognize the other finalists as recommended poets.

Poet Laureate Recognition

Every effort will be made to feature the Poet Laureate in Arlington media.

Nomination questions should be directed to the Arlington Poet Laureate Committee at This email address is protected from spam. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



BYLAW AMENDMENT/POET LAUREATE VOTED: That Title II of the City Bylaws be and is hereby amended by inserting a new section to provide for the honorary office of Poet Laureate of the City of

Arlington as follows:


Section 1. Establishment of an Arlington Honorary Poet Laureate

It is hereby established for the purpose of advancing the literary arts, enriching the community, and recognizing the literary achievements of residents of the city, the honorary position of Poet Laureate of Arlington.

Section 2. Selection, duration and criteria

The appointment of a poet laureate is for a one-year term, renewable annually for a total of three years on the recommendation of a five-person screening committee composed of one person each nominated by:

(a) The Library Board (by majority vote)

(b) The Arlington School Board (by majority vote)

(c) The Arlington Commission on Arts and Culture (by majority vote)

(d) Member of the Municipal Assembly (appointed by the Municipal Moderator)

(e) The General Manager (with the advice and consent of the Board of Selectors); and confirmed by the Board of Selectmen.

This honorary position is voluntary. Only residents of Arlington will be considered for nomination, and anyone appointed as Poet Laureate of Arlington must at all times remain an Arlington resident during their tenure as Poet Laureate. In the event that a Poet Laureate no longer resides in Arlington while in office, the honorary office shall be construed as having been constructively vacated.

Section 3. Duties of the Poet Laureate

The duties of the Poet Laureate are to present original works of poetry, conduct readings, and participate in public events and city, public school, and library programs, as appropriate and feasible.

August 13, 2019: The city’s third winner promises surprises
December 7, 2016: The city’s winning poets pass the sweet revelation test
August 9, 2017: The second poet laureate offers a democratic opening
September 20, 2015: Listen to our Poet Laureate lead a class

This announcement was published on Tuesday, October 4, 2022, based on information provided by John Burt ohf the committee of laureates.


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