Paying for a poet - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Paying for a poet

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SPOKANE, Wash. - If you could add one more position in your state and have taxpayers pay for it, what would it be? A police officer? A teacher? What about a Poet?  Yes, a Poet.

In 2007, The State Legislature created and funded a position for Washington State's very first Poet Laureate, hoping to build awareness and appreciation of poetry across the state.

Governor Gregoire appointed Sam Green to that position.

 "I am pleased to name Samuel Green as Washington's first state poet laureate," said Gov. Gregoire. "Not only will he encourage people across our state to learn about and appreciate poetry, his appointment to this position will honor the important role that poetry and poets have played in Washington's creative culture."

Governor Gregoire was under the impression that the state poet was a "volunteer" position.  Not so. The Washington State Poet is on a two-year contract for $10,000 per year which brings the total compensation to $20,000.

In March, KHQ questioned Governor Gregoire about this expense in the face of layoffs and cutbacks. The following is a question and answer session with the governor.

Governor Gregoire:

"He doesn't have a job, he's a volunteer.

KHQ:

"Well, he gets paid $20,000"

Governor Gregoire:

"Oh, I'm not even aware of that, I'm not aware of that, but one thing we are not going to do is come through this difficult time by undercutting essential services, by undercutting our culture, undercutting our education, we need to come out of this strong and ready to go."

Remember, Governor appointed him to this position.

This is what is listed about Sam Green on the State's official Poet web site:

"Green has served as a visiting poet in a wide range of settings, including universities, public schools, libraries, mental health centers, correctional facilities and poetry festivals. He has been visiting poet and poetry teacher at Seattle University for several years and is active with the Skagit River Poetry Festival."

Thanks to BridgetSmithCalligraphy.blogspot.com who helped with this story.

- Bill McGinty
KHQ Local News

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