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Professor, entrepreneur named York City poet laureate

Jason Addy

York College adjunct professor and Story Supply Co. owner Vito Grippi has a new title to add to his business card: York City poet laureate.

Grippi will serve as the city’s foremost poetry and literature advocate for the next two years after being named to the post at the beginning of April.

Having “been in the literary scene for a long time,” Grippi said he hopes to use his new role to establish more after-school youth writing programs and improve existing programs in the city.

Vito Grippi poses for a photo. Grippi was named York City poet laureate at the beginning of April.

With the sale of each Story Supply Co. notebook, the company donates notebooks and writing utensils to local organizations, Grippi said, and he will look to use his new position to expand that initiative to reach as many people as possible.

In the college writing courses he teaches, Grippi said, he tells his students to find their own voice by getting out of their comfort zones.

Grippi teaches upper-level writing courses for students actively seeking a career in creative writing as well as introductory courses on creative writing, where he teaches students whose education backgrounds run the gamut.

“My biggest thing is trying to find your voice, and to do that, I think you have to take chances and you have to try things, often that end in a poor result. ... Do the thing that makes you uncomfortable because that’s when you’re learning the most,” Grippi said. “That kind of process of exploring ideas and emotions through writing, it teaches you a lot about yourself.”

Grippi is the city’s sixth poet laureate, following in the footsteps of Gerry Meisenhelder, Bill Diskin, Carol Williams, Carla Christopher and Christine Lincoln.

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As York City poet laureate, Grippi will work closely with Creative York to implement a literary arts outreach plan, and he can be commissioned by Mayor Kim Bracey to write poems for special city occasions. Grippi said he also will serve as a judge for writing events at YorkFest 2017 in August.