Ogden's First Poet Laureate Announced (Oct 31)

OGDEN — Weber State University instructor Brad Roghaar has been selected as Ogden’s first poet laureate. He will assume his duties on Nov. 17.

“He really is a mainstay in not only Ogden but the Utah poetry scene,” said Kase Johnstun, literary chair for Ogden City Arts Advisory Committee and a member of the committee that selected Roghaar.

“There were seven total (applicants), all of which were completely competent to do the job well. We didn’t have any that didn’t fit the bill. We would have been happy with any of them,” Johnstun said.

“I’m really honored to represent Ogden,” said Roghaar, an instructor of composition and literature for the past 30 years at Weber State. 

Roghaar said he has some ideas to promote poetry and get more Ogdenites listening to it and involved in its creation. One of them is to publish and share some actual poetry, he said.

His idea is to set up kiosks in some permanent places, such as The Junction and Historic 25th Street, and rotate local poetry that would stay in the kiosks for an extended time period. 

“The poetry ... can also be in a place where people can linger and read from time to time,” Roghaar said. The kiosks’ presence would be similar to the statues in Ogden’s downtown area. 

Another idea of Roghaar’s is to have an established location where people could read poetry in the downtown area. 

“Have individuals read poetry for an hour,” he said. The poetry readings would occur with events such as the Ogden Farmers Market and the city’s First Friday Art Stroll. If it’s in conjunction with something that already has regular attendance, it will draw more individuals and increase interest in the arts, Roghaar said.

“We thought it would be great to have a recognizable name in the community. ... (Roghaar) was part of the committee put together to find Utah’s poet laureate,” Johnstun said.

Roghaar has a distinguished, international reputation in poetry. He recently returned from a reading in Shanghai, China. Prior to teaching at Weber State, he taught locally, including at Ogden High School. He also taught in Saudi Arabia for three years. He’s been to about three dozen countries during his long tenure as a poet.

He was also Utah State Poet of the Year in 1991, has served on the committee to select a state poet laureate and was the Utah Poetry Society Poet Laureate of 1992.

“He comes in with all the knowledge to make the institution really successful,” Johnstun said.

Contact reporter Doug Gibson at dgibson@standard.net.

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