Logan city’s new poet laureate has been writing poetry since she was old enough to hold a pencil.
“I love poetry. I know how important it is. Being a teacher at the university, I have seen how transformative poetry can be for my students,” said Shanan Ballam, a senior lecturer at Utah State University.
On Tuesday it was announced that Ballam was selected as Logan’s second poet laureate. Ballam said she received the news earlier this month when current poet laureate Star Coulbrooke delivered a letter to her from Mayor Holly Daines.
“This is just a wonderful opportunity to promote the thing that I love the most and to help other people see its value and to benefit from writing poetry, reading poetry and things like that,” Ballam said.
Ballam teaches poetry writing, fiction writing and composition at USU. She is the author of several poetry collections, including “Pretty Marrow.” Her newest collection, “Inside the Animal: The Collected Red Riding Hood Poems,” will come out next week.
“I’m just excited to continue the tradition we have had with Star Coulbrooke … going forward in the community,” Mayor Daines said.
Daines said she has enjoyed reading Ballam’s poetry and is looking forward to seeing what she does with the position.
As poet laureate, Ballam said she plans to coordinate with the Logan Library to offer free poetry workshops for individuals of all skill levels.
“It doesn’t matter if you have ever written a word of poetry or if you have written a lot,” Ballam said. “I’m an experienced teacher so I will be able to help each person individually to write something that they are proud of.”
Ballam hopes to further Coulbrooke’s focus on collaborative poetry.
“I will continue that tradition of gathering words and work from the community members and fashioning poems that are all of our voices together,” Ballam said.
One of the ways Coulbrooke created these community pieces was taking lines from everyone who participated in a walkabout and weaving them together to create one group poem.
Ballam said she envisions herself pulling lines from the poetry created in her workshops or writing collaborative poetry with participants.
The assistant director of the Logan Library, Joseph Anderson, said library staff is excited to work with Ballam.
“We love linking up with people in our community who are willing to share their knowledge and expertise with others,” Anderson said.
The library is right in the thick of the literary events in the community, Anderson said, and they are looking forward to seeing what ideas Ballam has for connecting people with poetry.
Ballam will begin her five-year term as poet laureate on Aug. 20. For more information about Ballam and to read or listen to some of her work, visit shananballam.org.
“I’m just really excited to do this and to carry on what Star Coulbrooke has been doing,” Ballam said. “I just hope to be able to fill her shoes.”