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Celebrating Our Community

When the Lucas County Commissioners announced my selection as Poet Laureate, they made some key points about our community. In a press release, Commissioner Pete Gerken said "The process to select the new Poet Laureate attracted applications from talented and accomplished poets and literary artists that reflect the diversity of Toledo and Lucas County. We couldn't go wrong in selecting any of the applicants." What an accurate statement! We prove that all the time with literary quality and with strong civic leadership among our poetic community, but yesterday I was fortunate to join some of our strongest leaders in the Lucas County Commissioners' meeting. I was so thankful to be able to share with the Commissioners just a few of our incredibly talented poets and to reinforce how integral their work is to our community. Getting these moments to combine politics and poetry, to bring together these key elements of community, builds to a long-term goal of elevating the recognition of arts and artists and making local politics more accessible.

I apologize that I didn't record the reading. I was honestly a little intimidated, by the setting and the company. It was only maybe twenty minutes but let me tell you, twenty minutes of pure magic! We not only celebrated Black History Month by sharing the powerful voices that are making history right now, but showcased the quiet and consistent leadership of these artists: C.C. (Chawone Ardrey)'s hard work in the community through Transformations Hair Salon and Savannah's Soul Kitchen; Jodie Summer's tireless work with Black Lives Matter and Community Solidarity Response Network; Sandra Rivers-Gill's many years of commitment to NAOMI House and to workshops with all ages; David Bush's many years working through the Lucas County Public Library and MADD Poets Society to support literacy and self-expression with teens; and Huntor Prey's many collaborations with Promedica, local sports teams, and so many more to promote health, clean water, and celebrate pride in our city.

It's taken a long time for us to get to this picture. A long time for the role of Arts to be recognized as integral to a community. A long time for politicians to set aside their business to listen to the spoken word and treat it with reverence. History is a collective noun. We are all a part of this community and the more we share our words with honesty and respect, and listen to each other's words, the more we move that history into a collective, prosperous future.

Thank you to these incredible artists for taking time out of their day, to Commissioners Tina Skeldon-Wozniak, Gary Byers, and Pete Gerken for listening with such reverence and earnest interest, and to everyone who celebrates Black History by recognizing the truths of the past and working to build a future we can all be proud of.

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Chris Bodor
Chris Bodor
10 févr. 2022

Thank you for this post. It is so wonderful to see local government supporting poetry and the arts.

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