The Beginning

In a resolution adopted October 21, 2014, in the interest of acknowledging the role of the arts, the City of Columbia created the honorary position of poet laureate and authorized One Columbia for Arts and History to establish a selection committee.

The members of the first poet laureate selection committee were: Nikky Finney, winner of the 2011 National Book Award for poetry; Tony Tallent, Director of Literacy and Learning at the Richland Library and Board Chair of One Columbia; Councilman Moe Baddourah; Michael Wukela representing the office of Mayor Benjamin; Jonathan Haupt, Director of the University of South Carolina Press and One Columbia board member; Sara June Goldstein, Senior Coordinator for Statewide Partnerships with the SC Arts Commission; Cynthia Boiter, co-founder of Muddy Ford Press and editor of Jasper Magazine; and Alejandro García-Lemos, a Columbia artist and founder of Palmetto Luna.

In Fall of 2018, the committee was reformed and officially reappointed Dr. Ed Madden to serve a second term starting in January 2019.


Dr. Ed Madden

In January 2015, Dr. Ed Madden was appointed as Columbia’s inaugural poet laureate. Dr. Madden will serve for four years.

Ed Madden is author of four books of poetry–Signals, which won the 2007 SC Poetry Book Prize; Prodigal: Variations; Nest; and Ark, forthcoming in 2016. His chapbook My Father’s Housewas selected for the Seven Kitchens Press Editor’s Series. His poems have appeared in Best New Poets 2007, The Book of Irish American Poetry, and in journals such as Prairie Schooner, Crazyhorse, Poetry Ireland Review, Los Angeles Review, and online at The Good Men Project.

The Position of Columbia’s Poet Laureate

The Columbia Poet Laureate is provided a reasonable budget for activities by One Columbia for Arts and History, as approved by the Board of Directors of One Columbia for Arts and History.

The Columbia Poet Laureate performs activities throughout each year, such as:

  • Visiting schools and attending city, library and school functions as needed;
  • Carrying out activities that engage the public in poetry or literary arts;
  • Gives readings at a special events

If the Poet Laureate is not able to complete a full term, the Poet Laureate Committee shall invite applications for a replacement. The replacement Poet Laureate will complete the remaining portion of the four-year term, and, if approved by the Poet Laureate Committee, may serve a another term.

A Poet Laureate may serve two consecutive terms if approved by the Committee. After a hiatus of at least two terms, a past Poet Laureate may be reappointed by the Committee.