City Poet Laureate Program
City of Urbana Arts and Culture Program
2019-2020 Inaugural Poet Laureate, Will Reger
The City of Urbana’s Mayor’s Office and the Urbana Arts & Culture Program are proud to announce the inaugural Poet Laureate in City of Urbana history, Will Reger.
Will Reger was born and raised in the St. Louis, Missouri area. He obtained his Ph.D. in History from the University of Illinois and lives in Champaign, Illinois, with his wife and two youngest children. A co-leader of CU Poetry Group, Reger has lent his energies towards initiatives such as MTD Poetry, CU Haiku in the News Gazette, and Poets at the Post, a monthly open mic held at the Iron Post in Urbana. Reger teaches within the Department of History at both Illinois State University and Parkland College and has read his poetry work at The Urbana Free Library, Boneyard Arts Festival, Imbibe Urbana’s Love for All Poetry Crawl, SPEAK Café, Respect the Mic, and as part of an annual reading at Danville Correctional Center.
His one-year term begins immediately. Reger was selected through a competitive application and interview process by a panel of literary experts. The poet laureate receives a $2,000 honorarium for the one-year term, funded by the City of Urbana’s Arts and Culture Program.
Will Reger impressed the jury with his proposal to generate deeper collaborations in and between Urbana’s various poetry organizations, create greater visibility for the art of poetry through public readings and panel discussions, as well as spearhead a visual art project that would result in local poetry being displayed as visual art throughout the city.
Reger will work closely with the Urbana Arts and Culture Program and Mayor Diane Wolfe Marlin to carry out his proposed community outreach project focusing on elevating the art of poetry in the local community. Reger’s plan also includes a pitch for a youth poetry competition he hopes to organize called Young Americans Writing Poetry (YAWP) that would support young poets. His work will include collaborations with local bookstores and public libraries to survey and make recommendations to guide acquisitions in an effort to promote dynamic collections of poetry. Reger specifically hopes to curate poetry contributions to local organizations benefiting those impacted by war and incarceration.
“We know Will will bring a lot of good energy to the role of the Poet Laureate,” Mayor Marlin said. “The City of Urbana will benefit from Will’s steadfast commitment to supporting local writers and advancing poetry projects in the community.”
The Poet Laureate program celebrates Urbana’s vibrant arts and culture scene through the work of a poet who elevates the art of written and spoken word, as well as conducts outreach activities, special programs, and presentations of individual works. The role of the Poet Laureate is to build upon the City’s local poetry scene, foster appreciation of poetry in all its forms, and support Urbana residents and visitors in deepening their appreciation of the art of creative writing.
“The Urbana Arts and Culture Program congratulates Will Reger on becoming Urbana’s first Poet Laureate and joins Mayor Marlin in recognizing his passion and commitment to elevating poetry in our local community,” said City Arts and Culture Coordinator, Rachel Storm. “We are excited to collaborate with him to forge new projects and honor our community with its already dynamic poetry scene.”
“I find that poetry means more to me than ever,” said Reger, “as a meditative practice, a form of sight, a game to play with language, and a means to explore experience.”
Will Reger began writing in the 7th grade and has published over 100 poems both in print and on-line, including in Front Porch Review, Chiron Review, Zingara Poetry Review, Passager Journal, Eclectica Magazine, The Blue Nib Literary Magazine, Broadkill Review, Cagibi, Innesfree Poetry Journal, and the Paterson Literary Review. His first chapbook is Cruel with Eagles, a self-published volume of poems illustrated by his daughter, Gretchen Valencic, formerly of Savoy. As the City of Urbana’s inaugural Poet Laureate,
Will Reger will work with the City of Urbana’s Arts and Culture Program to spearhead his proposed projects. He will also present poetry at various civic events throughout the year.
The City invites the public to a reception to celebrate inaugural Poet Laureate, Will Reger, on Wednesday, July 10th from 5pm-6:30pm in Analog Wine Bar in Urbana. The reception will feature comments from Mayor Diane Wolfe Marlin and Arts & Culture Coordinator, Rachel Storm, as well as a brief reading from the Poet Laureate. About the City of Urbana Arts and Culture Commission The Arts and Culture Commission works to celebrate and nurture the City of Urbana’s cultural and artistic diversity. The Commission nurtures creative expression, celebrates diversity, builds creative public spaces, and showcases the City of Urbana as a thriving destination for arts and culture. About the City of Urbana’s Poet Laureate Program The City of Urbana’s Poet Laureate Program celebrates poetry by recognizing a resident poet who honors and serves our diverse community and elevates the importance of the creative writing art form through sharing their work with Urbana residents. The Poet Laureate acts as an advocate for poetry, language, and the arts. They create a unique artistic legacy through readings and civic events. To receive updates on arts and culture events and artist opportunities in Urbana, follow Urbana Arts and Culture Program on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or subscribe to the Arts and Culture e-newsletter.