Mr. Williams stated, “On behalf of Erie County's Poetry Community, I with great modesty and humility do gratefully accept the position of 2014-2015 Erie County Poet Laureate. I hope to achieve during my tenure, what I have always hoped to achieve over the years through my involvement in Erie's artistic community, via weekly readings, poetry festivals, and publications I hope to make the art of poetry accessible and integral our collective community cultural consciousness.”.
Four finalists were selected to participate in a final reading of works on Monday, August 25, 2014. The finalists had already been scored on the written poetry submitted with their application, as well as their community project. The scores from Monday’s performances were combined with those previously achieved by the finalists.
Current Laureate Ron Hayes concludes his second term this summer. “My time as Poet Laureate of Erie County will always be two of the most special years of my life. I serve students every day in a job I love teaching subjects I love, but poetry is my passion, and I am grateful for the chance to serve not just my students but my entire community. I am particularly proud of having visited every public high school in the county during my tenure, and I will always remember the joy and pride I felt at sharing my second reading with over a dozen aspiring young poets. I’d like to thank the ECPLI committee for choosing me, Doug Smith for his kindness, Greg Brown for his guidance, Chuck Joy and Joe Giles for starting this initiative, and my family for their unwavering support.
As we transition to our fourth laureate, it’s gratifying for me to know that my successor will continue to work tirelessly at bringing poetry to every citizen of Erie County. Cee will be a tremendous asset to the lower east side, to the city of Erie, and Erie County and beyond. What a privilege it is to live in a community that chooses to invest in poetry! I am forever grateful.”
Previous Laureates include Dr. Tom Forsthoefel and Berwyn Moore. The Erie County Poet Laureate is an emissary for poetry who will promote an awareness of poetry and inspire an appreciation of the art form in our community.
The Poet Laureate initiative has been honored by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania and the National Association of Counties for excellence and for the promotion of the arts by County government.