Poetry News

New Alabama Poet Laureate Jennifer Horne Takes Center Stage on Alabama Public Radio

By Harriet Staff

In Alabama, the tradition of electing a poet laureate began in 1931 when an act of state legislature created the role. Jennifer Horne is the latest poet nominated to take the mantle, and at Alabama Public Radio, she talks about the nomination process and of course, about her poetry. APR's Stan Ingold explains, "Jennifer Horne was recently elected to the position by the Alabama Writers’ Conclave and is just awaiting Governor Kay Ivey’s signature. We sat on her back porch just outside of Tuscaloosa, and with the buzzing of cicadas, an occasional dog barking, and even a train…I asked her what a poet laureate does?" Let's pick up with Horne's response: 

“Every state just about has a poet laureate and we have a national poet laureate. So there is a grand old tradition of having a poet laureate for your country or your state. In Alabama, the poet laureate was established in 1931 by an act of the state legislature, and it was promoted and organized by the Alabama Writers’ Conclave, which is the oldest writers’ organization in the state.”

Alabama is known for producing some well-known authors. What’s it like knowing that you’re going to be the literary ambassador for the state?

“I definitely feel like I am taking on a role, taking on a responsibility to speak for the literary arts. We do have a wonderful history of literature in this state and a really rich and vibrant culture of literature in the state. So I feel honored, I feel this is something of a duty that I want to live up to; but mostly I feel like because of this rich literary culture I’m going to be a resource and a connector and a voice for all the wonderful stuff that is already going on in the state.”  

So how does one become the poet laureate, what’s the process?

“The process is that the Alabama writer’s conclave puts out a call for nominations, the nominating committee of the Alabama Writers’ Conclave, which is a separate, independent committee then looks at all the nominations. It’s a pretty extensive process, there is a big packet that has to be put in for the nominating committee. I was fortunate enough to have Alina Stefanescu, a poet right here in Tuscaloosa who decided to nominate me. Then the nominating committee decides on their candidate to present to the membership of the Writers’ Conclave at their annual meeting and then the membership votes to approve that or not, they approved me and that was a really great day in my life.”

Read and listen to their conversation at Alabama Public Radio

Originally Published: August 23rd, 2017