CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois is looking for a new poet laureate.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has launched a search committee to fill the post, which has been vacant since 2017. He said Illinois has been home to talented poets including Carl Sandburg, Gwendolyn Brooks and Sandra Cisneros, and he wants to hear from “the next generation of great writers.

Carl Sandburg

A poet laureate works to promote the art of poetry, nationally or at the state level. Illinois named its first poet laureate, Howard B. Austin, in 1936.

Since then just three other poets have had the title. Sandburg served from 1962 to 1967, while Brooks held the distinction from 1968 to 2000. Bradley University professor Kevin Stein was the most recent Illinois poet laureate, serving from 2003 to 2017.

Over a dozen poets, writers and artists have been named to the search committee, which will be led by Nora Brooks Blakely, daughter of Gwendolyn Brooks. The committee will consider nominations through Aug. 15.

Poet Gwendolyn Brooks, then a 32-year-old housewife and part time secretary, won the Pulitzer Prize for “Annie Allen,” a ballad of Chicago Negro life. Brooks was the first woman and first African American to be awarded a Pulitzer. (Credit: Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images

Nominees must be Illinois residents and have a publication history of poems and/or books and a record of being active in Illinois’ literacy community.

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