Last time Portland got a city "poet laureate" (Martin Steingesser, whose one-year term mysteriously doubled in length), the choice was made by a tiny self-appointed group of people purporting to represent all Portlanders - despite the fact that two of them lived in other towns. And once they made their pick, they pushed the Portland City Council to make it government-approved-official.
But at least Steingesser lives in Portland. This time, the selection by the same, or similar, group of people, Maine Poetry Central (who still lack a Web site) are giving their anointee, who may be confirmed by the Portland City Council on June 1, a two-year term from the get-go.
This year's selection is Steve Luttrell of Falmouth. (Google Maps shows his residence just on the Portland side of the Presumpscot River, but Falmouth's 2008 property-tax records (PDF) show that 100 Middle Road is indeed in Falmouth, and lists Luttrell's name as a property owner.)
Luttrell is the founder and "publishing editor" (that title is a new one on us) of the Cafe Review, a well-regarded quarterly poetry and literary journal. Like with Steingesser, the problem really isn't with him (though it does seem odd that our city's poet laureate should live elsewhere, even if quite nearby). It's with the process, which surely should involve some sort of basic residency check.
We're happy to have Luttrell around, and, for that matter, other folks promoting poetry and literature. But this "poet laureate" selection thing remains quite odd.