Mayor's Office Press Release

Mayor Annise D. Parker Names Houston’s Second Poet Laureate

May 19, 2015 -- Mayor Annise D. Parker and Houston Public Library (HPL) Director Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson today announced that award-winning author and professor Dr. Robin Davidson has been selected as Houston’s second Poet Laureate.  Dr. Davidson, an Associate Professor of English at the University of Houston-Downtown will represent the City of Houston by creating excitement about poetry through outreach, programs, teaching, and written work. She will receive an annual honorarium of $5,000 through the City’s Initiative Grant Program of the Houston Arts Alliance and serve a term of two years, May 2015 through May 2017.

As Poet Laureate, Dr. Davidson is committed to developing a Community Outreach project for Houston’s many diverse neighborhoods, as well as to local businesses. She will conduct workshops in which she will share the art and love of poetry and participate in community based poetry programs. She will also provide content to the Houston Poet Laureate Program web page and publish poetry to the Website by the community members attending her workshops.

“Selecting Houston’s second Poet Laureate was quite challenging because all the submissions we received were extraordinary! They showed what amazingly talented and creative people we have in Houston,” said Mayor Parker.  “Today, I’m excited to announce that we have selected award-winning poet Dr. Robin Davidson as Houston’s next Poet Laureate. She has studied with and among academic poets, has taught writing for both universities and community organizations, and she is eager to start building bridges in Houston’s diverse communities through the art of poetry.”

“The Houston Public Library is excited about the selection of Houston’s second Poet Laureate, Dr. Robin Davidson, and we look forward to working with her in the coming two years,” said Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson, Director of Houston Public Library. “Dr. Davidson is well versed in the art of poetry, as well as being connected to the dynamic people of Houston. We also know that she will bring her love of poetry to Houstonians from all walks of life, and help them link to a new world of expressive art.”

“I am honored and grateful to have been selected and given the opportunity to represent Houston as its second Poet Laureate,” said Dr. Robin Davidson. “One of Poetry’s greatest strengths is its capacity to engender human empathy in the reader, the listener, the writer. To give us a chance to tell our story and to genuinely hear the stories of others – this is the labor of Poetry. As Poet Laureate, I hope to serve all Houstonians by listening to the stories they have to share and promoting the art of Poetry—its thrilling engagement with language—as deeply relevant to each of our lives.”

About Dr. Robin Davidson

Born in Trieste, Italy, to American parents, Dr. Davidson is a poet, translator, and assistant professor of Literature and creative writing at the University of Houston-Downtown. She holds a B.A. in French from the University of Texas at Austin, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston. She is the author of “Luminous Other” (Ashland Poetry Press, 2013) which won the 2012 Richard Snyder Memorial Prize, as well as two chapbooks: “City that Ripens on the Tree of the World” (Calypso Editions) and “Kneeling in the Dojo” (Finishing Line Press). She is co-translator, with Ewa Elzbieta Nowakowska, of “The New Century: Poems by Ewa” from the Polish (Northwestern University Press).

In 2003 - 2004 Dr. Davidson served as Fulbright professor of American literature at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland. Her poems and translations have appeared in such American literary journals as “AGNI,” “The Paris Review,” “Gulf Coast,” “Tampa Review,” “91st Meridian,”Literary Imagination,” and “Words Without Borders.” She is the recipient of a 2009 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship in Translation. She currently teaches creative writing as associate professor of English for the University of Houston-Downtown, serves as the faculty advisor for UHD’s literary and visual arts magazine, “The Bayou Review,” and served as president of the board of directors for the Writers in the Schools program from 2008 - 2010. She also is the recipient of a 2009 Houston Arts Alliance Individual Artist Grant for her poetry.

About the Houston Poet Laureate Program

The Houston Poet Laureate Program is a partnership between the City of Houston, HPL, Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, and Houston Arts Alliance (HAA).

Houston Poet Laureate Selection Committee

The Houston Poet Laureate Selection Committee included a group of acknowledged and diverse poets, scholars, and literary experts that assisted in the nomination and selection process. The group includes: Robin Reagler, Poet and Executive Director of Writers in the Schools (WITS); Shannon Buggs, Director of Communication, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, University of Houston, and founder of Meta-Four Houston; Emanuelee “Outspoken” Bean,  renowned Spoken Word performance artist and Head Coach for Meta-Four Houston; Anis Shivani, Poet, fiction writer and critic based in Houston;  Marina Tristan, Assistant Director, Arte Publico Press; Delicia Daniels, Poet, Houston Community College Professor, and Editor in Chief of “Lone Star Legacy”; Claire Kageyama-Ramakrishnan, poetry scholar, poet, graduate of the prestigious University of Houston Creative Writing Program; and Elizabeth Brown Guillory, Distinguished Professor of Theatre and Associate Provost/Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at Texas Southern University. Non-voting members include: Jennifer Schwartz, Houston Public Library and Radu Barbuceanu, Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.

About the Houston Public Library

The Houston Public Library (HPL) operates 35 neighborhood libraries, four HPL Express Libraries, a Central Library, the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, The African American Library at the Gregory School, and the Parent Resource Library located in the Children’s Museum of Houston. With more than eight million visits per year in person and online, HPL is committed to excellent customer service and equitable access to information and programs by providing library customers with free use of a diverse collection of printed materials and electronic resources, Internet, laptop and computer use, and a variety of database and reference resources with live assistance online 24/7.

For further information, visit the Houston Public Library at www.houstonlibrary.org  or call 832-393-1313.