Sunday, January 14, 2007

Wash. to Have Poet Laureate?

I visited the Washington State Legislature's page to scan for bills related to trial practice. There are some I'll be checking out, but first I thought I'd let you know about Senate Concurrent Resolution 8401, which would establish a state poet laureate, in recognition of "the value of poetry and the contribution Washington poets make to the culture of our state." The poet laureate will receive a salary of "one firkin of Washington beer per year donated by representatives of the Washington Brewers Guild." (A firkin is a small barrel.)

It's generally illegal to give away alcoholic beverages, but there's an exception for the Liquor Control Board (for purpose of negotiating the sale of liquor to the board), RCW 66.28.040, and the resolution says that the poet laureate would be a representative of the board for the purpose of receiving the firkin. I'm not quite sure it fits, but what the heck.

The proposed salary is in keeping with a part of our state's poetic tradition, as when "poets Theodore Roethke (1901-1963), Richard Hugo (1924-1982), Carolyn Kizer (b. 1925), Stanley Kunitz (1905-2006), and David Wagoner could often be found at the bar [of the Blue Moon Tavern], along with famous visitors such as Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) and Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997)." Walt Crowley, Blue Moon Tavern, An Unofficial Cultural Landmark, (1999). But I wonder if some potential poets laureate might prefer Washington wine or even something non-alcoholic, like a bushel of Washington apples, locally roasted coffee, or hand-crafted chocolates.

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