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.

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

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.

Current Poet Laureate

Jennifer Bartell Boykin

Jennifer Bartell Boykin is the current Poet Laureate of the City of Columbia. She received the MFA in Poetry from the University of South Carolina. Her debut book of poetry, Traveling Mercy, will be released in November 2023 under the name Jennifer Bartell. Her second book of poetry Only Believe is a 2023 winner of The Hilary Tham Capital Collection and is forthcoming from The Word Works. An alumna of Agnes Scott College, Jennifer is an Academy of American Poets Poet Laureate Fellow and has additional fellowships from Callaloo and The Watering Hole. Jennifer is an English teacher and is pursuing a Master of Library and Information Science at USC to become a school librarian.

Previous Poets Laureate

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.