Poet Laureate

In 2020, the City of Rockford, in partnership with the Rockford Public Library and the Rockford Area Arts Council, established a two-year, honorary position of Poet Laureate. 

A Poet Laureate elevates a community’s cultural arts presence and inspires literacy and lifelong learning and is uniquely positioned to speak to and about the community which he or she represents.  A poet laureate speaks of moments of celebration and moments of mourning and can tell the story of a community’s journey, it its own voice.

Poet Laureate 2021-2022: Christine Swanberg

Rockford native, 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.

During her tenure, Christine will explore the theme, “Uplifting Rockford through Poetic Collaboration.”

Christine Contact Information:  [email protected]

Poet Laureate Requirements

Poet Laureate requirements are the following: poet must be a resident of the City of Rockford area for no less than one year. Poet must be 18 years of age. Poet must have demonstrated previous commitment to poetry and have significant publication history. The Poet Laureate Committee is established with representatives from the Arts Council, City of Rockford, Rockford Public Library, Rockford University, and members of the city’s arts and literary community.  Nominations are published in the spring of the second year of the each poet laureate’s tenure on the Rockford Public Library page (www.rockfordpubliclibrary.org)

Poet Laureate Selection Committee 2020

  • Lynn Stainbrook, Rockford Public Library
  • Mary McNamara Bernsten, Rockford Area Arts Council
  • Elías Soria, Rockford Housing Authority and Poet
  • William Gahan, Rockford University
  • Anthony Turner, United Way Strong House
  • Susan Porterfield, Poet Advisor at large
  • Theresa Gilbert, Rock Valley College
  • Emily Klonicki, Rockford Public Library and Rockford Area Arts Council

Photo Gallery from the Poet Laureate Announcement Event

To view the Youth Poet Laureate Page, click here.