Mr. Iris was selected by Mayor John Cranley, based upon the recommendations from an Advisory Committee, to be Cincinnati’s next Poet Laureate on April 10. City Council unanimously voted to confirm the appointment on April 18.
Mr. Iris obtained an M.A. in Latin American Literature from the Autonomous University of the Yucatan in 2004 and an M.A. in Spanish from New Mexico State University before obtaining his PhD in Romance Languages from the University in Cincinnati, which he received in 2013. Currently, he teaches English at DePaul Cristo Rey High School, where he is also the Coordinator of Hispanic Outreach, a Co-Coach of the Slam Poetry Team, and Co-coordinator of the Poetry Club. He will serve as Poet Laureate for a term of two years.
Iris received the National Award of Poetry Merida (Mexico, 2009) for his book Notebook of Dreams, and the Regional Award of Poetry Rodulfo Figueroa for his book The Disguises of Fire (Mexico, 2014), which was considered one of the best books of the year by the newspaper El Norte (Mexico, 2015), and finalist of the prestigious Latin-American award for published books “Ciudad de la Lira” in Cuenca, Ecuador. Iris coauthored, along with Brazilian poet Floriano Martins, the poetry book Overnight Medley (Brazil, 2014).
Mr. Iris will assume the role that is to be vacated by Cincinnati’s current Poet Laureate, Pauletta Hansel, as the end of her term approaches. Ms. Hansel is a poet, memoirist, teacher and arts administrator who has lived in Cincinnati since 1979, and was appointed as Cincinnati’s first Poet Laureate on April 1st, 2016. The City of Cincinnati is grateful to her for all she has done to define the role of Poet Laureate and for her steadfast commitment to community outreach.
Previously, Cincinnati had an official poet of the city. In January 2015, then Vice Mayor David Mann intended to revive the position with a motion, signed by four other members of council, that requested that the city create the position of Cincinnati Poet Laureate. Now, the city has joined the ranks of numerous other cities recognizing and promoting the multifaceted impact poetry can have on a community. To become the Poet Laureate, the person must have written poetry that exemplifies the characteristics or spirit of Cincinnati. Additionally, the Poet Laureate is expected to promote poetry appreciation, encourage the reading and writing of poetry throughout the city, as well as compose and read poems for special events.
The Advisory Committee also wishes to recognize runners-up Siri Huey and Annie Ruth, and to commend them for their strong applications.
A reception to celebrate the next Poet Laureate will be announced in the coming days.
This article was originally published in City Of Cincinnati, under the name: “Manuel Iris Confirmed As City of Cincinnati Poet Laureate”.