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Marquette senior named Saint Louis Poet Laureate

By: Bonnie Krueger

Marquette senior Zack Lesmeister accepts the Saint Louis Youth Poet Laureate title as he poses with Saint Louis Poet Laureate Dr. Michael Castro

Marquette senior Zack Lesmeister recently was recognized as the Saint Louis Youth Poet Laureate.

Lesmeister submitted an application, which included a portfolio of five original poems, along with a resumé.

“I spent the most time on the resumé. Regarding the poetry section, three out of the five poems I submitted were written over the summer. I went through a lot of revisions because I wanted to show my diversity as a poet,” Lesmeister detailed.

A group of judges selected 12 finalists, ultimately choosing Lesmeister to be honored with the title.

So, what exactly does a Poet Laureate do?

Throughout the year, Lesmeister will be conducting workshops at different schools, going on a library tour and working on publishing his first collection of poems through a book deal.

“It’ll most likely be around 40 pages,” he shared. “I’m going to slowly and very carefully choose the pieces I want to be represented in my first book.”

As a member of the school’s poetry club, Lesmeister draws a lot of inspiration from contemporary Vietnamese-American poets such as Hieu Minh Nguyen and Paul Tran.

Lesmeister’s style has progressed to more lyrical and metaphorical forms. As he points out, to be a poet doesn’t require distinct skills.

“I want people to know that poetry is a legitimate platform for young writers and you don’t have to be a Shakespearean writer to be a real poet and to gain recognition. Everyone starts somewhere. If you work hard enough, you can reach the same level as all of these other poets and writers. It’s perseverance and dedication that gets you to that level.”

The Saint Louis Youth Poet Laureate is a joint program of Urban Word NYC and UrbArts. The program identifies young writers and leaders who are committed to civic and community engagement, poetry and performance, diversity and inclusion, and education across Greater St. Louis.


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