2019 Urbana Poet Laureate - William Reger
Urbana Arts and Culture Program
2019 - 2020 Inaugural Poet Laureate - William Reger
Will Reger was born and raised in the St. Louis, Missouri area. He obtained his Ph.D. in History from the University of Illinois and lives in Champaign, Illinois, with his wife and two youngest children. A co-leader of CU Poetry Group, Reger has lent his energies towards initiatives such as MTD Poetry, CU Haiku in the News Gazette, and Poets at the Post, a monthly open mic held at the Iron Post in Urbana. Reger teaches within the Department of History at both Illinois State University and Parkland College and has read his poetry work at The Urbana Free Library, Boneyard Arts Festival, Imbibe Urbana’s Love for All Poetry Crawl, SPEAK Café, Respect the Mic, and as part of an annual reading at Danville Correctional Center.
Reger began writing in the 7th grade and has published over 100 poems both in print and on-line, including in Front Porch Review, Chiron Review, Zingara Poetry Review, Passager Journal, Eclectica Magazine, The Blue Nib Literary Magazine, Broadkill Review, Cagibi, Innesfree Poetry Journal, and the Paterson Literary Review. His first chapbook is Cruel with Eagles, a self-published volume of poems illustrated by his daughter, Gretchen Valencic, formerly of Savoy. As the City of Urbana’s inaugural Poet Laureate, Will Reger will work with the City of Urbana’s Arts and Culture Program to spearhead his proposed projects. He will also present poetry at various civic events throughout the year.
Will Reger impressed the jury with his proposal to generate deeper collaborations in and between Urbana’s various poetry organizations, create greater visibility for the art of poetry through public readings and panel discussions, as well as spearhead a visual art project that would result in local poetry being displayed as visual art throughout the city.
Reger will work closely with the Urbana Arts and Culture Program and Mayor Diane Wolfe Marlin to carry out his proposed community outreach project focusing on elevating the art of poetry in the local community. Reger’s plan also includes a pitch for a youth poetry competition he hopes to organize called Young Americans Writing Poetry (YAWP) that would support young poets. His work will include collaborations with local bookstores and public libraries to survey and make recommendations to guide acquisitions in an effort to promote dynamic collections of poetry. Reger specifically hopes to curate poetry contributions to local organizations benefiting those impacted by war and incarceration.
“The Urbana Arts and Culture Program congratulates Will Reger on becoming Urbana’s first Poet Laureate and joins Mayor Marlin in recognizing his passion and commitment to elevating poetry in our local community,” said City Arts and Culture Coordinator, Rachel Storm. “We are excited to collaborate with him to forge new projects and honor our community with its already dynamic poetry scene.”
“I find that poetry means more to me than ever,” said Reger, “as a meditative practice, a form of sight, a game to play with language, and a means to explore experience.”
Poet Laureate, Will Reger's Initiatives
- Poets in a Pandemic (formerly Poets on a Park Bench; converted to virtual format)
- Postcard Poetry Project (becoming a digital archive rather than exhibition) Applications being accepted until Fri. Aug 28, 2020 @ 5p.m.
- Poems on Glass (first unveiling concurrent with Murals on Glass) View a short video of the unveiling here!
- Request-A-Poem from Poet Laureate, Will Reger (request via email, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Young Artist's Studio Poetry Workshop for Kids! (Sunday, July 19th, 2020)
- Urbana Poetry Pros(e) Summer Initiative (Collaboration with Urbana Park District, The Urbana Free Library, and Urbana Arts and Culture)