Search begins for York's next poet laureate


The search for York's next poet laureate has begun, with applications available and a selection committee on the task.

The committee is in search of a York City or York County artist who will reside here for at least the next two years; has demonstrated literary achievements; is willing to dedicate himself or herself to educating people in the literary arts; and is dedicated to the city as a cultural or social destination.

The committee's pick will have big shoes to fill.

Christine Lincoln, who has served as poet laureate since early 2014, could have extended her term to three years, but it was time to step down, she said.

"I found my heart through this position," Lincoln said. "It's a bittersweet moment, but it's time for me to move on and let the next person bring their passion to this position."

Lincoln and the rest of the selection committee are drawing from a pool of people in an area with a very active literary scene.

"There's some intoxicating talent here," Lincoln said.

When Lincoln stepped into the position in 2014, she was mainly a fiction writer, but she says she has grown addicted to writing poetry.

"Once you start writing poems, it's like turning on a faucet," she said.

High standards: What is the selection committee looking for in the next poet laureate?

"I know now what is required, and the standards are very high," Lincoln said. Applicants should be "absolutely, fully committed" to supporting the arts in York, creating opportunities for people to express themselves and building a literary community.

According to a news release from Mayor Kim Bracey's office, the poet laureate also will be responsible for writing poems to commemorate special events in the life of the city.

Lincoln believes she was selected for the job because of the passion for writing she showed in an interview with the selection committee.

"When I interviewed with the committee, I poured my passion into it," she said.

She'll be looking for the same level of passion in applicants.

An applicant's academic credentials are less important that literary achievements, awards and dedication to the community, Lincoln said.

Connection: Dawn States, the teen program coordinator at Martin Library, recently accepted Lincoln's invitation to be on the selection committee. Lincoln has welcomed the library into York's literary community and has participated in library events such as Poet Tea Tuesdays, a program run by states in which teens gather to drink tea and discuss poetry.

"She has been such an amazing support, personally and professionally," States said of Lincoln.

In applicants, States said she will look for someone who can encourage people as Lincoln can; "Connecting with the community is the biggest thing," she said.

During her tenure, Lincoln put together readings for poets and fiction writers, attended a variety of arts events in the community, wrote a column spotlighting emerging literary voices and started writing groups for women at the Community Progress Council and an Access-York shelter.

Hosting the writing groups has meant a lot to Lincoln. Of the women at the shelter, she said, "They are right straight from being displaced, being abused. I want to get poetry to them so they can talk about stuff they might not be able to speak about any other way."

Lincoln is looking forward to focusing her energies on the writing groups she runs and a fellowship she is in the process of setting up. Through the fellowship, a writer of color who is marginalized in the publishing industry will come to York for two to six weeks to write, Lincoln said.

"I want York to become a destination for writers, where people can come and find their voices," she said.

Any York County resident can apply. Applications can be picked up at City Hall, at 101 S. George St., or downloaded from They will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Oct. 30.

— Reach Julia Scheib at