SANTA FE – New Mexico has chosen as its first poet laureate a bilingual Spanish-English writer and Chicano studies professor who will create a podcast of his encounters with wordsmiths and performers.
Levi Romero read Friday to the state Senate for his first day on the job. The native of Dixon in the Embudo Valley of northern New Mexico has won a long list of regional awards for publication of his free-verse poetry.
The three-year poet laureate post comes with a annual stipend of $25,000, and additional funds for travel and printing. The job is linked to the newly commissioned poetry center at the State Library based in Santa Fe.
“The program is really about the state poet being on a journey and bringing us along,” said State Librarian Eli Guinnee, describing plans for a podcast and publication of new anthology of local poetry based on Romero’s travels and encounters. “We’re going to give him a tape recorder, we’re planning on doing a podcast based on the conversations he has along the way. … All of us New Mexicans have a chance to ride along with Levi.”
Romero has taught in the Chicano and Chicana Studies Department at the University of New Mexico, and has additional experience as a documentary filmmaker.