AURORA | Aurora is officially on the hunt for a new bard.
Nearly three years after the city named local rhymester Jovan Mays to be its first-ever poet laureate, officials are looking to name Mays’ successor sometime early next year, according to a city press release issued Sept. 23.
A graduate of Smoky Hill High School, Mays became the face of verse in Aurora in early 2014. His term was originally set to expire earlier this year, however, city council voted to extend his tenure for an additional year.
The poet laureate position came under fire in Aurora late last summer when some city council members expressed their irritation with Mays’ extension and the position’s allotted stipend. Following the passage of the council resolution that allowed Mays to continue his role last summer, the poet has received $500 per fiscal quarter for his work.
City council members Marsha Berzins, who represents Ward III, and Renie Peterson, who represents Ward II, expressed particular frustration with the role, though both members said that they are now comfortable with the structure of the program.
“It’s fine with me,” Berzins said of the program’s length of service.
Peterson, who introduced a council amendment intended to kill the stipend allocated for the poet laureate position, echoed Berzins’ contentment.
“I’m satisfied,” Peterson said.
Former at-large city council woman Debi Hunter Holen initially helped launch the city’s poet laureate program.
The new poet laureate will continue to receive the council-approved stipend, according to Abraham Morales, spokesman for the city.
During his inaugural tenure, Mays has recited verses at a slew of city events, such as the unveiling of the new Martin Luther King Jr. statue in front of the eponymous city library on East Colfax Avenue. He has also led two different writing workshops sponsored by the city entitled “Write Aurora.”
The city’s new poet must be an Aurora resident, at least 18 years old, a published poet, interviewed by a committee and comfortable with performing at public events, according to the city.
“By ‘publication’ the selecting committee would like to see the efforts the candidates have made to share their work,” Morales wrote in an email. “This includes books, self-publishing, magazines, websites, university newsletters, poetry readings, etc.”
The new versifier will begin their duties in February of next year and serve in the role until January 2019.
Interested wordsmiths are required to mail a letter of interest and a sample of work to Patti Bateman, the city’s director of Library and Cultural Services, at 14949 E. Alameda Pkwy., Aurora, CO 80012. Packets may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deadline for submissions is Nov. 28. Interviews are scheduled to take place during the first week of December.
Mays did not return multiple requests for comment before press deadline.