On September 27th, Semaj Brown became the first poet laureate of the city of Flint by mayoral proclamation. Pamela Pugh, Flint’s Chief Public Health Advisor, presented the award to Brown after “esteemed members in the arts and literary establishments recommended appointing the city’s first poet laureate as part of the city’s public health, recovery and resilience programming.” More:
Brown was chosen to serve as Flint’s poet laureate because of “her unique history in the literary arts as a poet and author as well as (her) history in community health programming,” Pugh said.
Brown will work in conjunction with the city’s public health department, recognizing literature and literacy to be an integral component of a healthy vibrant society, according to Pugh.
“It’s an honor, it really is an honor,” Brown said.
In her most recent endeavor, “Bleeding Fire: Tap the Eternal Spring of Regenerative Light,” Brown combines science, health and social commentary into a book of poetry, prose and magical realism. Each poet laureate has their own platform, Brown said.
“At one time, poet laureates were more ceremonial. They would write poems for special occasions,” Brown explained. “But now, poet laureates will often have programming they want to implement. I have ambitious goals.”
The position of poet laureate is voluntary. As poet laureate, Brown wants to create a website to connect all of the literacy initiatives in Flint, provide recorded stories for children and create awareness for a more literate community. Brown is currently seeking a grant writer to help her with these goals.
“I’d like to show how poetry intersects with everything,” Brown said.