In February 2020, the Helper City Council officially welcomed the new Poet Laureate program, with those interested being instructed to complete a letter of interest.
Nancy Takacs was the lone applicant for the position. While she acknowledged that 2020 was an especially hard year for all, including artists, there is a desire to get back to the drawing board and host events. Takacs stated that as the Poet Laureate, she tries to be in the background and bring poetry events to the community.
Last March, Takacs and Helper City Mayor Lenise Peterman were fortunate to bring the Poet Laureate of Utah, Paisley Rekdal, to visit local classrooms and give a poetry reading at the Rio Theater just before the pandemic hit. Takacs has also been successful with readings at K2 Gallery, which is located on Helper’s Main Street.
Six more events were scheduled for the spring of 2020 that unfortunately had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These events were supported by K2 Gallery, The Helper Project, The Beehive Poetry Project and the Utah Humanities Council. Takacs stated that they are hoping to reschedule many, if not all, of these events in 2021.
Thankfully, things did not entirely halt for Takacs in 2020. She was fortunate to create an anthology titled “Jackrabbit Review” with a group of local poets. Known as the The Book Cliff Poets, the group gathered at a weekly class taught at the senior center for several years, which was then moved online via Zoom.
Takacs said that these anthologies will be for sale in certain galleries and businesses within Helper and Price cities. Two Salt Lake City poems were hosted by Takacs on Zoom last October as well, which was sponsored by the Utah Humanities Council.
“Poetry is different from any other literary form,” stated Takacs. “It is the only one that speaks directly from the unique perception of the poet to her/his readers and it should be read aloud.”
Takacs wanted to bring the attention to events that she is organizing for the spring of 2021, one of which is already underway. Takacs has created spring “poetry boxes” that contain poems from nationally-known fine contemporary poets that have been placed in a number of locations within Helper City. Anyone can pick up a poem and take it home with them.
These poetry boxes may be found at Helper City Hall, Happiness Within, R&A Market and the Balance Rock Eatery. Takacs plans to refill to boxes as the number of poems dwindle and she checks them frequently to ensure that any that want a fresh poem will be in luck.
Following this, Takacs is hosting a poetry workshop slated for April 10. This workshop is entitled “Beginning Again” to encompass the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, the start of spring and the welcome back to poetry for many. This workshop will be hosted virtually via Zoom from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. This class is for beginning and intermediate poets. Those that wish to sign up may email Takacs at email@example.com.
Another fun virtual event that Takacs is hosting is an open mic night, again via Zoom, on April 24 beginning at 7 p.m. and concluding at 8:30 p.m.
“Read your poems to other poets in a night of virtual word fireworks or just come listen to the poets,” Takacs shared. The theme for the evening is “Roads” and those partaking are invited to interpret the theme as they see fit.
Takacs’ third Zoom event will be a poetry reading by the Poet Laureate herself. This is slated for May 1 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Takacs is the author of several books of poetry and has lived in the community for over 30 years. She has various accomplishments under her belt, including teaching creative writing at CEU/USU Eastern for several years.
More plans are in the works for the Poet Laureate, including classes in local schools, fun events at the Helper Arts, Music and Film Festival, workshops and more.
“As we return to normalcy, I hope to offer many more in-person events,” Takacs concluded.