Rockford Poet Laureate
City of Rockford Poet Laureate and Youth Poet Program
The Rockford Area Arts Council, in partnership with the Rockford Public Library and the City of Rockford, established the City of Rockford Poet Laureate and Youth Poet in October, 2020. A City Poet Laureate is an honorary position; Poets Laureate promote literacy and literature among residents of all ages. The Arts Council and the Rockford Public Library develop programming, and complementary resources, to provide the recipient with opportunities to promote their personal work, host workshops for residents, and appear at important City events. The official honor of City of Rockford Poet Laureate, is awarded for a period of two years and is a grant-funded position. The City of Rockford Youth Poet is awarded for a period of one year.
Current City of Rockford Poet Laureate, 2023 and 2024: Jenna Goldsmith
Jenna Goldsmith is a writing professor at Rockford University and is the recipient of accolades, awards, and scholarships across the United States, including Winner – Baltic Writing Residency Chapbook Contest, Up to Us Fellowship – Project Pericles, Oregon State University Women’s Giving Circle Grant, Writer-in-Residence – Write On, Oregon State University Cascades Faculty Executive Council Grant, Finalist, Swedish Residency – Baltic Writing Residency, and the Oregon Cultural Trust Oregon Poet Laureate Selection Committee.
“Inspired by poetry itself and memorable poetry readings, I hope to collaborate with Rockfordians to facilitate encounters with poetry that surprise, excited, foster local pride, and awaken others to the institutions that connect us. I wish to demonstrate how poetry moves in, out, and through places of physical and social infrastructure in our community—the landfill, the coroner’s office, the transit district, the DMV, the airport—to offer Rockfordians a glimpse into an alternative public square.” – Jenna Goldsmith
Current City of Rockford Youth Poet, 2023: Kaila Anderson
Kaila Anderson is the 2023 City of Rockford Youth Poet Laureate and is currently a sophomore at Auburn High School.
2021-2022 City of Rockford Poet Laureate: Christine Swanberg
Christine Swanberg has an accomplished portfolio of publications and community engagement both within the Rockford Area and throughout the State of Illinois as an active poet, editor, educator, and columnist for over fifty years. She is the recipient of accolades, awards, and scholarships across the United States, including Midwest Poetry Review: (first prize), a merit scholarship to the Vermont Writers Program, and receipt of the Carl Sandburg fellowship.
Christine has over 500 published works in 75 nationally recognized journals including: Spoon River Quarterly, American Aesthetic, Chiron, Avocet and others and has published several books through independent Chicago-based publishers. She has served on juries and committees for competitions and publications across the United States and has an extensive history of working with organizations in Rockford including: Rockford Writers’ Guild, Womanspace, Natural Land Institute, Severson Dells, Rockford Public Library, Midway Village, and others.
2022 City of Rockford Youth Poet: Giulyana Gamero
Giulyana Gamero is the 2022 City of Rockford Youth Poet Laureate. Her writing is influenced not only by the world around her but by the many different arts she partakes in, such as visual art, music, and film. Through her writing, she hopes to spread ideas of love and self-expression while encouraging others to delve into the arts.
“The Laureate position, to me, has been so tremendous in helping me become more familiarized with my community, gain a profound respect for the arts and the media around the arts, and additionally learn more about drive from a business standpoint. Being a part of so many different projects has allowed me to genuinely find a place where I thrive as a creator. I have a vast and expansive amount of gratitude for everyone who has aided me in getting to where I am and for the amount of experience I’ve gained with this position. Experience is something you can never get enough of, and I always strive to learn; this position has only driven that forward for me.”