Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

STL Aldermen Appoint Michael Castro City's First Poet Laureate

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

STL Aldermen Appoint Michael Castro City's First Poet Laureate

Article excerpt

Michael Castro is St. Louis' first poet laureate, approved by the city's Board of Aldermen in a vote Friday morning.

During November, 65 names were submitted to an outside task force for consideration. Castro, 69, who has been one of the most visible poets in the area for some four decades, was the task force's unanimous choice.

"Few communities are lucky enough to have someone like Michael to become their first poet laureate," task force chairman Aaron Williams said earlier this week. "He really is a game-winning grand slam of a nominee and human being to lead this post for the first time for our community."

Poet Richard Newman, editor of River Styx literary journal, said: "Michael is a great choice for our city's poet laureate. If poetry has any powers for healing or bringing our community together, Michael should be the perfect ambassador."

Castro himself, on a trip to India, was not immediately available for comment. Friends began posting their congratulations on his Facebook page on Wednesday, when news of the nomination was released. Karen Duffy, former owner of Duff's restaurant, wrote: "This is great news, Michael. Time to celebrate STL with poetry from our laureate. Bring your magic to city hall."

He'll begin his post Jan. 1 and a formal event to mark the appointment will be planned that month, said Michael Powers, legislative director for aldermanic President Lewis Reed.

Castro, who taught for 32 years at Lindenwood University, retired in 2012. He is a founder of River Styx and its reading series, and in 2005, he was named a lifetime Warrior Poet by Word in Motion. Criteria for the new city poet laureate included this statement: "Experience stimulating and teaching novices as well as experienced poets is a requirement for the inaugural Poet Laureate."

The task force looked for several other attributes, including a "track record for representing poetry as its ambassador within and outside the St. …

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