Baton Rouge, La. — July 12, 2020 — Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced the appointment of the City-Parish’s third Poet Laureate, Jonathan Mayers.
Mayers — pronounced My-a — is a native of Baton Rouge. The visual artist, writer, and cultural activist earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Studio Art with a concentration of painting and drawing from Louisiana State University, and earned his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of New Orleans.
“Kèl onœr! What an honor! Speechless when I received the news, I'm so excited to serve as Baton Rouge Poet Laureate,” said Mayers. “As a Louisiana Creole, my hopes in this position are to share language and perspectives, opening up a dialogue on multilingualism and bridging communities through poetry.”
Kouri-Vini, the endangered Creole language of Louisiana, is central to his works within both art and literature. Mayers work is fueled by his passion for connecting with his family’s culture. His work can be found in Ti Liv Kréyòl, Folklore Figures of French and Creole Louisiana, Feux Follets, and Le Bourdon de la Louisiane, among others.
“Jonathan’s work inspires others to protect and preserve the historic Creole culture within Louisiana; the combination of both Kouri-Vini and his talents will help keep this language alive for future generations,” said Mayor Broome. “This unique asset will strengthen the cultural fabric of our community. I look forward to seeing how this will shape his tenure as poet laureate.”
Mayor Broome initiated The Baton Rouge Poet Laureate Program in partnership with the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge in 2019 to celebrate the city’s rich culture and diversity. Mayers will represent Baton Rouge by using his poetry to drive outreach, programs, teaching, and written work.
Mayers will fill this role for one year, in which he is granted a $5,000 stipend to cover community engagement events throughout his term. Funds are contributed through private donations.