Tucson has its first poet laureate in years.
Mayor Jonathan Rothschild named the accomplished poet Rebecca Seiferle as the city's new ambassador for literacy and literary culture.
"I am very honored to be poet laureate for such a thriving and diverse literary community," Seiferle said during a Thursday afternoon news conference.
Seiferle said she would like to be an emissary for poetry and in the process create a more vital presence for it in the community because poetry offers more than just some well-turned phrases on a piece of paper.
"Poetry has a great power to communicate, to heal and to transform the way people think," she said.
Seiferle has published four poetry collections and has won awards for each. In addition, she has translated the works of numerous poets, including Alfonso D'Aquino, Ernesto Lumbreras and Cesar Vallejo.
Rothschild, who is himself a published poet, revived the unpaid position - William Pitt Root, the first laureate, was appointed in 1997, but the practice trailed off over the years - to not only maintain a vibrant poetry community in Tucson, but to spur reading and writing among area youths.
"What we need to accomplish is, we need to get our young children interested in reading ... and I'm a believer that one of the important ways to do that is through poetry," Rothschild said.
Studies have shown one key to academic success is early literacy. And Rothschild believes poetry is the perfect medium to introduce the many facets of language to the young children of Tucson.
"We know poetry is fun. We know that poetry is playing with language. We know that it's playing with imagination," he said. "We know that reading a poem is like unwrapping a surprise … and that when you help a child write a poem, they surprise themselves with their creativity."
If you are interested in the poet laureate's services, you can contact the Tucson Pima Arts Council at 624-0595.
Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or firstname.lastname@example.org