Poetry News

Orlando Selects First Poet Laureate, Susan Lilley

By Harriet Staff

Orlando, Florida has selected its first poet laureate! Susan Lilley, 64, will be announced as the recipient of the honor next week in a City Council meeting. "'I’m a little stunned, actually,' Lilley said Thursday. 'There are a lot of great writers in the area, so I’m very humbled.'" More from the Orlando Sentinel

Lilley, who also taught at the University of Central Florida for 12 years, called herself a “late bloomer” when it came to writing poetry.

“Somewhere in my 30s, I decided I just had to go for it,” she said. ‘Every writer knows you have to write a lot of bad stuff before you get where you want to go. … Sometimes the artistic urge will not be denied.

Since then, she’s been awarded the Rita Dove Poetry Award for her work. She specializes in narrative poetry, she said, “which means telling a story. Like all narrative poets, I strive for lyrical moments within the narrative. When I achieve that, I know I’m in the sweet spot. It’s hard to get.”

As laureate, Lilley will perform at city events and give presentations to local students, which she said she most looked forward to doing.

“I have lots of ideas, and I hope I get to make them happen,” she said.

The competition, which began in July, is a partnership of Orlando, United Arts of Central Florida and city-based independent publisher Burrow Press.

The three finalists for what Mayor Buddy Dyer described as “official storyteller” – Lilley; Terry Ann Thaxton, a creative writing professor at the University of Central Florida; and Curtis X Meyer, a Winter Park slam poet – were chosen from among 49 applicants by a panel of experts.

Read on at the Orlando Sentinel.


Originally Published: October 20th, 2017