Athens is days away from having its third official poet laureate after Wendy McVicker was introduced to the Athens City Council as Athens Municipal Arts Commission’s choice for the position during Monday’s committee meeting. The decision will be brought before the city council for a vote.
Bonnie Proudfoot, a member of the AMAC poet laureate hiring committee, introduced McVicker to the council. “I think the City of Athens can consider itself very fortunate to have received Wendy’s application,” Proudfoot said, going on to detail McVicker’s many accomplishments.
McVicker has been a resident of Athens since 1985, and been publishing poetry since 1987. She has a degree in philosophy from Webster University, and has taught poetry to a variety of age ranges.
She has published three chapbook collections of poetry. McVicker’s most recent chapbook, “Sliced Dark”, is a collaboration with her husband, artist John McVicker. It explores the themes of love and loss, and uses poetry and visual art to create an experience for the reader.
McVicker has also been involved with many community projects in Athens, including the Poetry Trail at The Dairy Barn and the “On The Bus” poetry project.
“She’ll be an inspiration to those whose lives she touches and will represent the best that the Athens art community has to offer,” Proudfoot said.
McVicker then introduced herself to the council and crowd. “I am very moved to be here with you,” McVicker said before going on to read an original poem titled “Listening to the Trees.”
The poem directly related to a project that McVicker detailed in her application that she would like to expand in Athens. The project, which McVicker likes to call Poetree, is a way to get the community involved in planting trees in the community, while allowing for a chance for self-expression through poetry.
McVicker was involved with a Poetree project that planted a fruit-bearing tree at the Chauncey Library. Community members were invited to write a line of poetry on a strip of newspaper, which was then used as mulch when planting the tree. The idea being that the poems were then part of the tree, helping it to grow.
McVicker also mentioned her plan to work with WOUB to create a sound archive of poetry in Athens.
“I think of myself as a community poet. It feels so good to be here and to present myself in this way,” McVicker said.
The decision to accept McVicker as the Athens poet laureate will go before the Athens City Council during their meeting on Monday, Feb. 17. If approved McVicker will serve as the poet laureate for two years.