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Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.

The City Of Rockford Has Its First Ever Poet Laureates

Jesse Kuntz
Rockford's first youth poet laureate Jocelyn Kuntz.

Two northern Illinois poets Saturday were appointed to positions new to the city of Rockford. Jocelyn Kuntz  was awarded youth poet laureate and Christine Swanberg poet laureate, in an inaugural event held at the Rockford Public Library’s Nordlof Center.  


Christine Swanberg at her poet laureate ceremony.
Credit https://christineswanbergpoet.com/
Poet Christine Swanberg.

Swanberg is an award-winning poet who has more than 500 published works. She encouraged the other finalists.

“Let me begin by congratulating the other excellent candidates,” she said. “Please know that since I'm 71 years old, and have persevered with this quirky literary teaching life seriously for 50 years, it is likely that because you are younger, you are poet laureates-in-waiting.” 

Kuntz is 15 years old. She says her writing is inspired by the community. 

“These are the people I write poetry for,” she explained. “I write to share my experience with them, my experience with the community, my experience with the city, my experience with nature in the community.” 

The induction ceremony kicked off with a 2020 video highlighting Rockford’s many artists and art initiatives.

The City of Rockford Poet Laureate award includes a $1200 biennial monetary award and the Youth Poet Laureate receives a $250 annual award.

The Rockford Public Library and the Rockford Area Arts Councilpartnered to make this possible. The event was closed to the public but was streamed live on Facebook.

Disclaimer: Jocelyn Kuntz is the daughter of WNIJ reporter and editor Connie Kuntz.

  • Yvonne Boose is a 2020 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.
Yvonne covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This could include how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities. Boose is a recent graduate of the Illinois Media School and returns to journalism after a career in the corporate world.
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