ITHACA, N.Y. –– During Tuesday night’s meeting of the Tompkins County Legislature, officials appointed a new county poet laureate –– Dr. Christine Kitano.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Dr. Kitano lives in Brooktondale and is an assistant professor at Ithaca College where she teaches poetry and Asian American literature. She also serves on the faculty for the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. She is the author of two collections of poetry, Birds of Paradise (Lynx House Press), and Sky Country (BOA Editions) which won the Central New York Book Award.

Dr. Kitano is the 10th laureate to be appointed in Tompkins County –– the position was established by the Tompkins County Legislature in 2001 to, “honor local outstanding poets, integrate poetry into the community, enrich the education of our young people, and enhance the county’s position as a cultural center.”

She succeeds Melissa Tuckey, who served from 2019 through 2020.

The search process for a new poet laureate began back in November and according to Megan Barber, executive director of the Community Arts Partnership, “We received nominations for eight outstanding local poets, each with unique ideas about how to put poetry in service to the community. We are so excited about Dr. Kitano’s appointment.

Tompkins County Legislator Amanda Champion added saying, “we received many incredible applications for this year’s Poet Laureate, the talent and beauty of our community never ceases to amaze me. We’re delighted to welcome Dr. Kitano in this role and look forward to a year of poignant prose that will capture the moment and inspire us all.”

In her letter nominating Dr. Kitano, Dr. Eleanor Henderson, a professor in the Humanities and Chair of the Department of Writing at Ithaca College, praised Dr. Kitano’s commitment to equity, inclusion, and antiracism, adding “Dr. Kitano has a calm, confident way of bringing people together around language, and I could imagine her doing so again and again in the position of Poet Laureate.”

Dr. Kitano upon accepting the position read a poem entitled “Ithaca Domestic” after which she added, “I am honored to serve as Tompkins County Poet Laureate and look forward to bringing more poetry into the community.”

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at alamb@ithacavoice.com