Through a partnership with the Mobile Arts Council and the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the City of Mobile has named writer and educator Dr. Charlotte Pence as its first poet laureate.
A published author and accomplished poet, Pence has been a professor in the English Department at the University of South Alabama since 2017. Her poetry has been published in the “Harvard Review,” “Sewanee Review,” “Poetry” magazine and other journals. Her books of poetry include “Code” and “Many Small Fires.” You can find more of her work at charlottepence.com. Currently, Pence serves as the Director of the Stokes Center for Creative Writing, which enhances USA’s offerings in creative writing by sponsoring readings, lectures, forums, community projects, and other free public events. The Stokes Center also issues awards in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction to USA students.
In her honorary position with the City of Mobile, Pence will continue a similar mission to encourage young Mobilians to explore poetry and find their own unique voices. Over the next two years, she’ll be leading educational workshops for local youth, participating in public events and writing original works of poetry about our historic community and its people.
“I am honored to be selected as Mobile’s inaugural poet laureate,” Pence said. “My hope is to uplift as many voices as possible from this vibrant, multi-faceted community. I want to showcase the diversity of poetic voices that already exists here and encourage more people into poetry.”
After an extensive application and review process led by the Mobile Arts Council, Mayor Sandy Stimpson tapped Pence to serve as the City of Mobile’s first poet laureate last month. Through her work with the City of Mobile, Pence will help expand opportunities for Mobilians to access and learn more about poetry while also creating avenues for local poets to share their own works.
“There is great power in the written word, and there are so many stories worth telling in the City of Mobile,” Mayor Stimpson said. “We are thrilled to have someone as talented and passionate as Dr. Pence representing our community. I also want to thank the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the Mobile Arts Council for their partnership and leadership on this initiative.”
Thanks to funding from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, Pence will receive an honorarium stipend of $5,000 over her term as poet laureate. The City of Mobile will also publish poems by Pence in a book that will be made available at future community events.
As part of the same initiative, the City of Birmingham named writer and educator Salaam Green as its first poet laureate in late December.