Missouri in High Immortal Verse
Regular readers of this blog know that I like to include references to literature in the titles of my posts. So, of course, I was intrigued to learn that Gov. Blunt is now seeking a poet laureate:
Blunt is working with the Missouri Center for the Book to determine length of term and a basic job description. The center is a nonprofit group that promotes the importance of books and reading.
"This is a public acknowledgment of the value of literary arts," said Mark Tiedemann, board president for the center. "It puts a face on what is all too often overlooked."
We have official state invertebrates; now we’ll have an official poet.
The problem with this phenomenon is not that it burdens taxpayers the poet laureate won’t receive a salary, just like the crayfish aren’t compensated but that it gives the impression that everything worthwhile needs government sanction or approval. Why don’t we just appreciate our state’s wildlife and writers without official designations? And no matter how diplomatically the poet is chosen, any choice is sure to annoy somebody out there because of subject matter or poetic style.
In some ways, this might be a better move than giving crayfish a special title. Most states do have poet laureates, and many people like the idea. If a laureate is chosen once every few years, that doesn’t waste elected officials’ time the way hundreds schoolchildren lobbying for official bugs could.
On the other hand, a choice of a partisan poet could lead to unnecessary public discord. At least crayfish don’t write anything controversial.