Welcome to the Illinois Poet Laureate's state-sponsored website. Be sure also to visit the corollary Bradley University-sponsored site at www.bradley.edu/poet.
What you find on both sites will enrich your understanding of poetry and thus deepen your appreciation of the art. Doing so, you may well discover how poetry can invigorate your daily life and help you to fathom what it means, as Whitman once remarked, to be a human being alive at this shared moment of history.
Yes, poetry is an art form requiring attention and discipline from its practitioners and its readers alike. However challenging, poetry need not be chilly or aloof. It is a living thing, the breath of our breath, something made of air we can feel but not touch. As Sappho says of poems, "Mere air, these words, but so delicious to hear."
Poems are made of words, the elemental stuff of our shared language, what Martin Heidegger calls our "House of Being." In this way, poems are woven of us and of our culture, this beautiful, beguiling, befuddling blend. Whether in praise or lament, poems celebrate our human experience.
Simply put, this website's objective is to promote the art of poetry. Our special focus is the rich bounty of work created by Illinois's poets past and present. Through features on Illinois poets, this site highlights Illinois's poetic legacy and showcases the bevy of fine poets currently writing within the state.
In addition, this venue celebrates Illinois's notably varied chorus of voices. Here, you encounter the divergent forms poems can engage to express our human condition. No doubt you will like some featured poets better than others. That's as it should be. By exposing yourself to a range of poetic styles, you broaden your experience as well as establish your own tastes. You also come to appreciate the vivifying ethnic and racial diversity of those who practice poetry in our state. In telling ways, this diversity reflects our vibrant multicultural heritage.
Finally, whether you care passionately about poetry or are simply curious about its mysteries, you are welcome here. My aim is to foster an audience ranging from poetry newbies to those more seasoned devotees of the art. I trust you will enjoy your visits to the Laureate's twin websites and will return often.
Former Illinois Poet Laureate (2003-2017)