Association of Pennsylvania Poets Laureate

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Butterfly Festival was a Success!

From Salvadore DeFazio:

History was made at the Butterfly Poetry Festival, held at the Hazleton Campus of Penn State, this past weekend. The Festival hosted the first symposium of Pennsylvania's Poets Laureate. Laureates from Bucks County, Hanover, Harrisburg, Hazleton, Perry County and York gathered to discuss their poetry and service as Poet Laureate.
Poets and the city or county they represented were: Salvadore DeFazio, Hazleton; Bill Diskin, York; Patricia Goodrich, Bucks County; Claude Lewis, Harrisburg; Melanie Simms, Perry County and Dana Sauers, Hanover. Presiding over the symposium as master of ceremonies and interviewer was Erika Funke, originator and voice of WVIA-FM's "Art Scene."
Following welcoming comments and letters from Hazleton's Mayor, Louis Barletta and State Representative Todd Eachus, Erika Funke read remarks written for the symposium by Samuel Hazo. Mr. Hazo served as Pennsylvania's only State Poet Laureate from 1993 to 2003. His statement, "If we live in a society, poetry (and literature generally) is the only language that tells us who we truly are. For a society to be and to remain truly human, it is essential that poetry be an accepted and expected part of public speech," became a statement of purpose for what followed.
The poets discussed and read examples of poetry that reflected their personal lives. Then gave examples of a more public type of poetry written to fulfill their position as Poet Laureate. They also reflected on their appointments to the position of Poet Laureate and shared experiences encountered in serving in that capacity.
The strongest held consensus was the importance of working with and writing for the youth. Since most of the laureates are educators or devote some of their time to working with the youth and students, a number of the poems read related to the enabling of youth to cope with life.
One of those in attendance commented that the symposium showed the importance of a position as Poet Laureate. It helps to de-mystify poetry, and the arts in general, for a community. It gives a face and a name to the art form, rather than impersonal references found in books.
The consensus of the poets and the audience was the wish to see more municipalities and counties take advantage of the position of Poet Laureate as liaison between the community of the arts and the general public. The Association of Pennsylvania's Poets Laureate hopes to set the precedent and help interested communities in establishing their own position of Poet Laureate.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Butterfly Festival is August 20 in Hazelton, PA

I am happy to inform you that there has been a great response for the gathering of Pennsylvania Poets Laureate at this year's Butterfly Poetry Festival.

The Festival, which will be held at the Hazleton Campus of Penn State, will begin at 2:00 PM on August 20th. This will be preceded by a luncheon for all attending poets at 1:00 PM at the campus. This will allow us to meet and afford Erika Funke, the master of ceremonies, an opportunity to meet you before the program begins.

I am asking all present and past Poets Laureate who will be attending to mail your biographical information to me as soon as possible so I can begin to prepare press releases. Send to: Salvadore DeFazio, 731 W. Diamond Ave., Hazleton, PA 18201.

It is not too late to join us. If you have not contacted me but are interested in participating, please send me you bio information and we will put you on the roster.

If you would like a copy of the press release before the festival, for possible publication in your area, let me know and I will send it to you as soon as it is ready.

After receiving your mailing address, I will send a detailed map with directions to Penn State Hazleton.

If there are any questions, please feel free to phone me at 570-455-3963. I am looking forward to your meeting in August.

Salvadore DeFazio

Looking for Melanie Simms? Try her website!

Like her poetry? Want to offer some feedback?

The easiest way to contact Melanie is through her website at

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Poets to Gather in Hazelton

Mark your calendars! The Butterfly Festival in Hazelton, PA is Sunday, August 20. This year's festival features the gathering of several past and current Poets Laureate from communities all over Pennsylvania. Are are welcome. More details soon!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Poets Laureate around Pennsylvania

Below is a list of current and past Poets Laureate from counties and cities around Pennsylvania. If you have information to add to this list (or corrections!), please send it to or

Bucks County, PA
Patricia Goodrich, 2005
Bill Wunder, 2005 Poet Laureate:
Brian Lutz: (?)
Kurt Krumpholtz (1998)

Hanover, PA
Dana Sauers, 2006 Poet Laureate:
Anna Bowman, 2005 Poet Laureate:

Harrisburg, PA (City)
Claude Lewis, Esq.: (2006)
Nathaniel Gadsden: (yr?)
Gene Hosey: (yr?)
Iya Isoke: and

Hazelton, PA (City)
Sal DeFazio: No e-mail available

Lancaster County
2006 Poet Laureate Post in creation: Pending

Montgomery County
* * 2005-2006 Montgomery County Laureate Pending
Teresa-Mendez-Quigley: 2004

Perry County
Cordelia Jensen: (2006-2007 Poet Laureate)
Melanie Simms: (2005-2006 Poet Laureate)
Melody Davis: (2001 and 2005 Poet Laureate)
Ann Benvenuto: (2003)
Ed Rech: (2000)
Elizabeth Yon: (1999)

Pittsburgh, PA (City)
Ashley Cole, 2005 PL of Pittsburgh:

York, PA (City)
Bill Diskin, 2005-2007 Poet Laureate,
Gerry Meisenhelder, 2003-2005 Poet Laureate (No e-mail address available)

Sam Hazo, first and only PA State Poet Laureate, resigned 2003.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Calling all Pennsylvania Poets Laureate!

The Association of Pennsylvania Poets Laureate (APPL) is compiling a list of Poets Laureate from around the State of Pennsylvania.

If you know of a current or past Poet Laureate from your community (or if you are one), please send his or her name and contact information to APPL President Melanie Simms at

In the coming weeks, we will share the list in an effort to help Poets Laureate connect to discuss program ideas, community initiatives, and funding opportunities.

Until then, keep writing!

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Melanie Simms named APPL President

Melanie Simms, a poet from Central PA, is the founder and President of the Association of Pennsylvania Poets Laureate. Recently named Poet Laureate of Perry County, Ms. Simms also heads Shippensburg Poetry. Bill Diskin, Poet Laureate of York, PA is Vice President of APPL. His poetry and a calendar of poetry events for York and surrounding areas can be found at his web site at

Welcome to the home of the Association of Pennsylvania Poets Laureate

Check back soon for APPL news, updates on the growing list of communities around Pennsylvania that have Poet Laureate posts, and a schedule of poetry related events!