Belmont appoints new Poet Laureate

Belmont appoints Monica Korde as Poet Laureate

in Community

Belmont Mayor Charles Stone recently announced the three-year appointment of Monica Korde as Poet Laureate for the city.

As the Poet Laureate, Korde is tasked with acting as an ambassador and advocate for poetry, literature and the arts for the city.

At her introduction at Belmont City Council on Tuesday, Sept. 28, the award-winning poet and former educator read a poem titled “To Rise” and shared a preview of the poetry projects she has planned for Belmont.

According to the city, Korde has been a Belmont resident for seven years and was born and raised in the city of Ahmedabad, India. She has a Master’s degree in English and a Diploma in French language, and has poems published in various online literary journals and anthologies.

Korde is highly involved in promoting poetry in the community, having worked with local poets to organize events amplifying youth voices. She was a co-judge for the first Annual WordSlam Youth Poetry Contest for youth in East Palo Alto, Belle Haven and North Fair Oaks, according to the city, and she volunteers for her local library, co-hosting the bi-monthly Poets Night open mic program.

The honorary post of Poet Laureate was revived by Belmont City Council in 2015. Tanu Wakefield was named the city’s second Poet Laureate, followed by Jacki Rigoni.

“During her tenure, Jacki helped bring poetry out of the library and into Belmont’s public spaces at Belameda Park and Emmett Plaza,” the city said. “In response to the Covid pandemic, Jacki transitioned the monthly poetry nights to a virtual format with great success.”

The city’s first Poet Laureate was James McLaughlin, whose 1962 poem “Belmont” is the official poem of the city and displayed at City Hall.

“Poetry helps us connect,” Korde said in a statement. “My goal is to break free from the stereotypes around poetry, to demystify it, and make it approachable for everyone.”

She added, “Belmont is a mountain carrying many cultures and a multitude of voices with myriad stories to tell. My vision is to unify these diverse voices through poetry by offering creative spaces to celebrate the written & the spoken word, especially to harness the talents of the youth and build out a new canon of poets within the city of Belmont.”

Anna Koch, Belmont’s recently appointed Library Manager is glad Korde is a “huge fan” of libraries and the Belmont Library in particular.

“Her mission using poetry to connect is similar to our mission to connect communities with libraries and all that they offer,” Koch said.

Korde will work with the Belmont Library and Belmont Parks and Recreation Department as she introduces her poetry projects to the community, the city said.

Photo courtesy of the City of Belmont