Michael Castro, a founder of the local River Styx poetry publication and organization, will become St. Louis’ first Poet Laureate on January 1. A task force chose the University City resident from a pool of 64 names. The Board of Aldermen approved the nomination Friday.
St. Louis faces a number of challenges that poetry can address, Castro said, speaking of issues around the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr. by now former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, and a grand jury’s decision not to indict him.
“I think the scab has been lifted and the poison is pouring out and there’s an openness, there’s a recognition that there has to be a change,” Castro said.
Castro, 69, has a Ph.D. in American Literature from Washington University where he focused on Native American mythology and culture. He’s taught at UMSL and Lindenwood University and is widely published and nationally recognized.
Castro studied the art and culture of India as a Fulbright Fellow in 1990. He has published and translated numerous poetry books as well as a book of prose called “Interpreting the Indian: Twentieth Century Poets and the Native America.” He was named a Warrior Poet by St. Louis’ Word in Motion in 2005.
“Words provide moments of identity with quote-unquote ‘the other,’ moments of simple recognition of our common humanity,” he said. ... >>continue reading
In our 250-year history, many great poets have resided in the St. Louis area but none were asked to be the official Poet Laureate. Among our rich past are the names of Maya Angelou, T.S. Eliot, Eugene Field, Marianne Moore, Howard Nemerov, Sara Teasdale and Mona Von Duyn.
On December 12th, President Lewis E. Reed and the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, with the assistance of the Poet Laureate Task Force, added one more name to this list and distinguished Michael Castro with the honor of being the region and the City's first Poet Laureate.
Castro will serve the city for a two year term from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2016.
To learn more about Michael Castro, click here.
Or, listen to a short interview with Castro following his
nomination onSt. Louis Public Radio.