There's one moment of the past three years that Carla Christopher won't soon forget.

She was on the stage in a York College auditorium, reciting a poem she'd written for the occasion, York City Mayor Kim Bracey's annual State of the City Address.

As the city's poet laureate, Christopher is no stranger to publicly sharing the sentences she crafts. She is a writer adept at pulling meaning and beauty from the seemingly ordinary.

But, on that stage in May, she choked up when she read these words about York's struggle to overcome loss of industry, street violence and political revolution:

"Rather than rest, we have taken up arms made of paintings, computers, cupcakes and motorcycles. We are taking to the streets with guitars in our hands, and we are howling triumphant against the grain despite the rain," she read. "We carry banners that proclaim, 'We are still here.'"

Christopher said she wrote the poem, titled "5.3 Square Miles," about York's "permanent state of renaissance that never fails to keep me inspired."

"It is so easy to write poems about York City because I love York City," she said. "We have this beautiful, indomitable spirit."

Early next year, Christopher will pass the torch to a new poet laureate. With her three-year term nearly up, Christopher is heading the committee tasked with selecting someone new.


The committee is looking for a volunteer with a background in the literary arts, a willingness to share that knowledge and a devotion to York City. Anyone who lives in York County is eligible to apply. Applications are due to YorkArts, 10 N. Beaver St., by 5 p.m. on Jan. 31.

The committee will interview top candidates and make a recommendation to Bracey.

In addition to community outreach, the city's poet laureate is responsible for writing poems to mark special events.

During her term, Christopher said, she's written more than a dozen such poems for events, including the opening of the new City Hall and the 150th anniversary of Confederate troops arriving in York. She'll compose one more for Bracey's second-term inauguration in January.

Each poet laureate has his or her own personal goals, Christopher said.

Carol Clark Williams, who held the position before Christopher, did a lot of work with the elderly and homeless communities. Christopher said she aimed to build bridges between "splintered communities," to make poetry "relevant in the community in a way that it wasn't before."

She cited the local open-mic scene as evidence of success. Indeed, attend an open mic at any York City venue, and you're likely to hear a poem in addition to music.

Christopher said she also shared her creative-writing knowledge with children in schools.

"I'm excited to see what the next poet laureate's priorities will be," Christopher said.

-- Reach Erin James at