Deadline Wednesday as town seeks 4th poet laureate

Steven Ratiner

UPDATED Oct. 27: The Town of Arlington seeks its fourth poet laureate, and the application deadline has been extended to Wednesday, Nov. 30.

The term for Steven Ratiner, who has held the post since 2019 and is known for his long-running Red Letter Poems series, has expired.

John Burt, Poet Laureate Committee chair, seeks “a dynamic, self-motivated individual” to serve a three-year term. The laureate acts as the town’s leading poetic voice and ambassador for poetry, encouraging the reading and writing of poetry throughout Arlington.

This position, which receives an annual stipend of $750, aims to enrich the lives of residents by sharing and promoting poetry through conversation, readings, public appearances and workshops. Previous applicants are encouraged to apply. Applications will be due no later than Wednesday, Nov. 30, a date extended from Oct. 30.

You may apply to the position electronically here >>  

To apply via snail mail, submit your documents -- the application, your CV/resume, samples of poetry and other supplementary information -- postmarked or hand-delivered no later than Nov. 30 to the Select Board office, Arlington Town Hall, 730 Mass. Ave., Arlington MA 02476, or hand delivered to the Select Board office, second floor, Town Hall.

Hard copies of the application materials can also be picked up at the town manager’s office, the Select Board office and at the Robbins Library.

For more details and answers to questions, email John Burt at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Previous laureates were Cathie Desjardins and Miriam Levine.

 Who May Apply

  • The Town of Arlington Poet Laureate Committee embraces the diversity of human experience and identity. All applications are welcome, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, cultural heritage, socioeconomic background, or physical ability. The applicant must be at least 18 years of age. The applicant must reside in Arlington. Must be available to fulfill the duties of the position as defined by Article 13 of the 2014 Town Meeting >> (see Appendix for the text of the Article). Previous applicants are encouraged to apply.


Criteria for Applicants and Nominations 

  • The applicant should show evidence of achievement in the art of poetry, including publications (books, literary magazines, and/or digital media).
  • Additional weight will be given to applicants who have received recognition or awards. 
  • The applicant should demonstrate excellence in promoting awareness or enjoyment of poetry.
  • The applicant must be able and available to reach town-wide audiences.

Application/Nomination Requirements

The following items are required as part of the application:

1. A one-page cover letter that includes contact information for the applicant.

2. A work sample not to exceed six (6) pages, 8 ½ x 11, no less than a 12-point font, no more than one poem on each page. The work sample may contain information that indicates where the poem has been published or performed, or if it has received any awards for merit.

3. The applicant’s résumé or curriculum vitae not to exceed two (2) pages. 

4. Suggestions of what the applicant would hope to accomplish during his or her tenure as Poet Laureate, (up to two pages).

5. (Optional) Up to two (2) pages of supplementary materials, including excerpts from published book reviews, judges’ comments, or other critical writings that help contextualize the poet’s work for the committee.

To complete the application, submit this online form  or completed application packets should be mailed to the Town Manager’s Office, 730 Massachusetts Avenue Arlington MA 02476, postmarked by October 31, 2022, or delivered by hand no later than noon on that day.

Selection Process

1. The Committee reviews all submitted materials to arrive at three (3) finalists.    

2. The three (3) finalists are interviewed in person by the Committee.

3. The Committee presents their top candidate, based on the application packets and the interviews, to the Board of Selectmen.

4. The Committee will acknowledge the other finalists as Commended Poets.

Recognition of the Poet Laureate

Every effort will be made to feature the Poet Laureate in Arlington media.

Application questions should be addressed to the Arlington Poet Laureate Committee at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



BYLAW AMENDMENT/POET LAUREATE VOTED: That Title II of the Town Bylaws be and hereby is amended by inserting a new article to provide for the honorary position of the Poet Laureate of the Town of

Arlington as follows:


Section 1. Establishment of an Honorary Poet Laureate of Arlington

There is hereby established for the purposes of advancing the literary arts, enriching the community, and recognizing the literary achievements of Town residents, the honorary position of Poet Laureate of Arlington.

Section 2. Selection, Term, and Criteria

Appointment of a Poet Laureate shall be for a term of one year, annually renewable for a total of three years based on the recommendation of a screening committee of five persons consisting of one person each designated by:

(a)The Library Board of Trustees (by majority vote)

(b)The Arlington School Committee (by majority vote)

(c)The Arlington Commission on Arts and Culture (by majority vote)

(d)Town Meeting Member (appointed by the Town Moderator)

(e)The Town Manager (with advice and consent of the Board of Selectmen); and confirmed by the Board of Selectmen.

This honorary position shall be voluntary. Only Arlington residents shall be considered for appointment, and any person appointed as Poet Laureate of Arlington must at all times remain an Arlington resident during their term as Poet Laureate. In the event that a Poet Laureate is no longer a resident of Arlington during their term, the honorary position shall be construed to have been constructively vacated.

Section 3. Duties of the Poet Laureate

The duties of the Poet Laureate shall be to present original works of poetry, conduct readings and participate in public events and Town, public school and library programs as appropriate and practicable. 

Aug. 13, 2019: Town's third laureate promises surprises


Dec. 7, 2016: Winning town poets pass test of gentle revelation
Aug. 9, 2017: Second poet laureate offers democratic outreach
Sept. 20, 2015: Listen in as our poet laureate conducts a class

This news announcement was published Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, based on information provided by John Burt of the laureate committee. It was updated Oct. 27, as the deadline was extended.

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