NEW PALTZ – Ulstery County Executive Jen Metzger announced she has appointed New Paltz resident Kate Hymes as the County’s 2023 Poet Laureate, bringing poetry to residents of all ages throughout the county.
County Executive Metzger said, “Kate’s appointment as Poet Laureate is a true reflection of her talent, dedication, and contributions to our community, and aligns perfectly with our shared vision of promoting creativity, diversity, and inclusivity in Ulster County. Words possess the remarkable ability to bridge hearts and minds, uniting our community through the art of verse. Here’s to the transformative power of your poetry and the bright horizons it paints for our future. Congratulations, Kate!”
Hymes is a writer and poet living in New Paltz. She has led Wallkill Valley Writers workshops for over twenty years and writers who have written with her have dubbed her the story doula. Her poems have been published in national and regional anthologies, most recently mightier: Poets for Social Justice, published by Calling All Poets, 2020. Hymes is currently working on poems inspired by the history of people of African descent in New Paltz and Ulster County.
“I love poetry because it is accessible to everyone. A poem doesn’t require the time commitment of other art forms or writing genres. A five or ten-minute commitment can give the reader an experience so significant that the feeling of reading that poem, specific lines, or images will stay with the reader for a lifetime,” Hymes said. “At present, my work focuses on the lives of free and enslaved people of African descent in New Paltz, New York. I hope to write poems that fill in the gaps left by government and church records. The lives of Black people in New Paltz, and Ulster County, are largely visible through a glass, darkly in local news clippings, and personal letters and diaries of the white community. I am inspired by lines from a Kwame Dawes poem, A Way of Seeing: No records, just smells of stories/ passing through most tenuous links. . . I want to be a griot who writes poems and tells the stories that keep the ancestors alive.”
The Ulster County Poet Laureate program was instituted in 2023 by Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger and is an unpaid, one-year role. Arts Mid-Hudson manages the process of the public call for nominations, inviting a panel of literary professionals and community members to select from the nominations, and promoting the appointment.
“Arts Mid-Hudson is delighted to welcome Kate Hymes as our inaugural Ulster County Poet Laureate. We are incredibly thankful to County Executive Jen Metzger for her support of this appointment” said Melissa Dvozenja-Thomas, Executive Director for Arts Mid-Hudson. “Poetry helps us appreciate and understand the world around us. We look forward to working with Kate as she inspires collaborations and our community with this powerful art form.”
Information about the Ulster County Poet Laureate and the upcoming programs can be found at, https://www.artsmidhudson.org/uc-poetlaureate