Chicago Poet Laureate Program

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Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, in coordination with the Chicago Public Library, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and Poetry Foundation, is proud to announce the creation of the Chicago Poet Laureate program. The program comes from the advocacy of the city’s creative and civic communities. It aims to increase awareness of Chicago’s historic contributions to the literary arts while celebrating and honoring the efforts of Chicago’s working artists.

The Chicago Poet Laureate will serve a two-year term and will be awarded a grant of $50,000 ($25,000/year) for the commissioning of new poems and for the creation of a public program series, including programs for youth and students. The Poet Laureate will serve as an ambassador for the city’s literary and creative communities.

The Poet Laureate will be identified and named through a multi-phase nomination, application, and review process.

The Laureate will be formally appointed in Spring 2023.

Eligibility Criteria

To be Chicago Poet Laureate, the individual must:

  • Be a current resident of the City of Chicago.
  • Be at least 21 years of age.
  • Have a demonstrated connection and/or commitment to the literary community in Chicago.
  • Have at least four published works and/or performances in established publications (print, online, poetry journals, magazines, websites, or video) over the past three years that are not predominantly self-curated, personal websites, or personal blogs (not published in a vanity press).
  • Have received critical acclaim as demonstrated by special honors, awards, and/or other recognition.
  • Have a strong interest in serving the city and comfort with being a representative of the City of Chicago.
  • Have a history of working with people of all ages and strong communication skills.
  • Be able to develop and deliver public programming.
  • Be willing and able to travel between locations around Chicago.

Nominations from the Public

Through January 18, 2023, Chicagoans were invited to submit their nominations for Poet Laureate. The nominee can be a poet in either written or spoken traditions.

Self-nominations were accepted.

The nomination period is now closed.

Selection Process

After January 18th, all nominees are being reviewed according to the eligibility criteria listed above. Those who are eligible will be invited to apply.

Poets who submit an application will be reviewed and selected according to a process detailed in the linked pdf.

Help Promote the Program

If you would like to help the program partners promote the public nomination period, please use the linked communications toolkit.

Questions? Email

About the Partners

Since 1873, Chicago Public Library (CPL) has encouraged lifelong learning by welcoming all people and offering equal access to information, entertainment, and knowledge through innovative services, programs, and technology. Through its 81 locations, the Library provides free access to a rich collection of materials, both physical and digital, and presents the highest quality author discussions, exhibits, and programs for children, teens, and adults. For more information, please call (312) 747-4300 or visit To follow CPL on social media, visit CPL on Twitter (@chipublib), Facebook (Chicago Public Library), or Instagram (@chicagopubliclibrary).

The City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) supports artists and cultural organizations, invests in the creative economy, and expands access and participation in the arts throughout Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods. As a collaborative cultural presenter, arts funder, and advocate for creative workers, our programs and events serve Chicagoans and visitors of all ages and backgrounds, downtown and in diverse communities across our city — to strengthen and celebrate Chicago. DCASE produces some of the city’s most iconic festivals, markets, events, and exhibitions at the Chicago Cultural Center, Millennium Park, and in communities across the city — serving a local and global audience of 25 million people. The Department offers cultural grants and resources, manages public art, supports TV and film production and other creative industries, and permits special events throughout Chicago.

The Poetry Foundation recognizes the power of words to transform lives. We work to amplify poetry and celebrate poets by fostering spaces for all to create, experience, and share poetry. Follow the Poetry Foundation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and Poetry at @PoetryMagazine.

Chicago Public Library

DCASE, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

Poetry Foundation