Poet Laureate of Tompkins County
The position of Tompkins County Poet Laureate was established by the Tompkins County Legislature in 2001 to honor local outstanding poets, integrate poetry into the community, enrich the education of our young people, and enhance the county’s position as a cultural center.
Janie E. Bibbie
On February 8, 2023, the Tompkins County Legislature appointed Janie E. Bibbie as the County’s next Poet Laureate. Ms. Bibbie is the 11th Poet Laureate to serve Tompkins County. Read more about Janie Bibbie below.
What is a Poet Laureate?
A poet laureate is a poet officially appointed by a government or conferring organization. The tradition is believed to have started in what is now Italy in the 14th century. Today, more than a dozen countries around the world continue the tradition. The United States created the position of national poet laureate in 1937, and today many U.S. states and communities name their own poets laureate.
Tompkins County's Poet Laureate!
Since its establishment, the selection and announcement of the Tompkins County Poet Laureate has been a process administered by the Community Arts Partnership (CAP). CAP solicits nominations and organizes the selection panel for appointment to the post. Appointments have been for two-year terms. This is an honorary position.
Janie E. Bibbie
A resident of Tompkins County for 50 years, Ms. Bibbie serves as trustee, deaconess, and leader of the caregiver group of Calvary Baptist Church and is a member of Business Leaders of Colors, GIAC’s Senior Program, and the Tompkins County Quilters Guild. She is the author Alzheimer’s Up Close and Personal and twelve volumes of poetry, including Pieces of Life: Poems from Smooth and Broken Places and Keep Moving: Poems for What’s Next.
Ms. Bibbie is the 11 th Poet Laureate to be appointed in Tompkins County. She succeeds Dr. Christine Kitano, who served from 2021 through 2022.
Megan Barber, Executive Director of the Community Arts Partnership, administers the Poet Laureate selection process. “We received nominations for eight outstanding local poets, each with unique ideas about how to put poetry in service to the community. We are so excited about Janie’s appointment.”
Ms. Bibbie states, "I am honored to have the opportunity to encourage members of our community to join me in reading, writing, and sharing poetry.”
Amanda Champion, Tompkins County Legislator, had this to say: "The Tompkins County Poet Laureate plays an important role in uplifting the art of poetry in our community. Words have the power to inspire and transform lives. I look forward to seeing how Ms. Bibbie will share her gift of poetry with the residents of Tompkins County."
All Tompkins County Poet Laureates
Dr. Christine Kitano, 2021-2022
Melissa Tuckey 2019-2020
Kathryn Howd Machan 2002-2004
Michelle Courtney Berry 2004-2006
Paul Hamill 2007-2009
Jay Leeming 2010-2011
Gail Holst-Warhaft 2011-2012
Tish Pearlman 2013-2015
Jack Hopper 2015-2016
Zee Zahava 2017-2018