James Morehead sees poetry in Dublin and its communities. As the recently reappointed poet laureate for the city, he hopes to shine a spotlight on literary arts and written forms of self-expression.
Morehead was officially selected for the role by members at the Feb. 7 Dublin City Council meeting. Mayor Melissa Hernandez certified Morehead for the position, marking his second term that runs through December 2024.
"It's an opportunity to put a spotlight on the literary arts in the community and to expand the awareness and appreciation of poetry," Morehead said. "Poetry is not just being created by a small niche part of the community; poetry is being created by many people."
Members from the Heritage and Cultural Arts Commission reviewed applications for the role. Applicants were then invited to read an original poem to the commission on Jan. 12.
The voting was unanimously in favor of Morehead.
Morehead, a published author and resident of the city since 2000, was initially selected for his first term in June 2021.
His two published poetry books, "Canvas" and "Portraits of Red and Gray", have received national recognition. His third book is set to publish later this year.
"We have a very diverse community across Dublin," Morehead said. "People have immigrated here from all around the world, and as a result, they brought into the community not only different languages for the poetry they create but different styles and approaches to poetry. It's exciting to be able to amplify that."
For his second term, Morehead has plans to work with Dublin High School for the Poetry Out Loud competition in 2024.
He explained how many people may not feel comfortable writing or reciting poetry because there is a lack of awareness and space to do so freely. With his platform, he plans to continue creating those welcoming environments.
"It's just that most of them don't have a safe space to share what they've created, so they kind of do it in private or for friends and family," he said. "That is a key role of the poet laureate, providing safe spaces for people to share what they've created."
Aside from poetry, Morehead serves on the DHS Engineering and Design Academy advisory board.
The role of a poet laureate in Dublin was first introduced in 2007 when City Council members approved the notion and set a list of duties they should strive for. Those include completing public poetry reading events throughout the city and assisting in literary classes or workshops for the public.
The role is meant to advocate and encourage poetry, literacy and reading for the citizens of Dublin. Terms are fulfilled in two years.
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