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Norwalk's First Poet Laureate Takes Her Love Of Prose To The Streets

Norwalk Community College Professor Laurel Peterson was recently named Norwalk's first poet laureate.
Norwalk Community College Professor Laurel Peterson was recently named Norwalk's first poet laureate. Photo Credit: Contributed

NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk’s new poet laureate wants everyone to know about her love of poetry.

“I want to make poetry public,” said Laurel Peterson, who is also the first person to receive the honor. “I have seen all these beautiful artworks that are public in Norwalk … so why not take our poetry and put those same installations in public places so people can almost trip over it, make it part of their daily lives?”

During the poet laureate application process, Peterson floated the idea of displaying snippets of poetry on city buses in celebration of National Poetry Month in April. Officials liked her idea and put it into action.

After she was selected for the honor, Peterson went to work to choose 28 of the poems, which range from the classics to the contemporary.

While Peterson has written both poetry and prose, she said poetry is a unique form of writing. “The focus is much more on imagery than it is on [an] idea,” Peterson said.

Her next collection will focus on the idea of flying, which was inspired by her father's career as a commercial airline pilot.

The collection will explore the idea of what it means to be a pilot -- in the atmosphere and in space, Peterson said.

For additional inspiration, Peterson said she recently subscribed to NASA’s "Image Of The Day," which include images from the space station, rockets blasting off and of astronauts in space.

A professor of English at Norwalk Community College, Peterson teaches expository writing, creative writing, and interdisciplinary courses in the arts.

Her poetry has appeared in the The Atlanta Review, The Baltimore Review, The Distillery, Poet Lore, SLAB, The Rio Grande Review, The Texas Review, Thin Air, Yankee and other publications.

Peterson also has written a mystery novel, which is scheduled to be released May 17. The longer works serve as a nice contrast to the poems, Peterson said.

“I like long-form fiction, novels. The poems are a balance to that — shorter pieces that let me look at at individual moment in depth, which is really different from the intent of a piece of fiction.”

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