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Meet Lansing's new poet laureate, Masaki Takahashi

Masaki Takahashi, Lansing Region Poet Laureate 2022-2024
Posted at 11:39 AM, Apr 10, 2022

LANSING, Mich. — Masaki Takahashi started writing poetry when he was 15 years old.

"I was writing these raps and then it kind of grew into spoken word when I got a little bit older," he said.

Now 35, not only does he run the popular open-mic night at the Robin Theatre in REO Town called The Poetry Room, but he was also just named the next Lansing region's poet laureate.

"Which is a pretty big deal," Robin Theatre owner Dylan Rogers said. "The poet laureate doesn't just represent Lansing, it represents the tri-county area. So they are going out and networking with a really broad audience of diverse people. They also have access to fund to do that work."

The two-year title and $2,000 stipend comes from the Lansing Economic Area Partnership, Michigan State University's Residential College in the Arts and Humanities Center for Poetry, andLansing Poetry Club.

"Masaki's got some great ideas about how to spend the next two years in this role," Rogers said.

Takahashi, who has lived in Lansing for almost 20 years, said that a poet laureate is, "in a sense, an ambassador of poetry in the city."

"There are a lot of things that we can do. I love work-shopping with students—high schools students, in particular, and college—because often, they're starting off and they all have a stroke of genius...that inspires and reminds me of why I started," Takahashi said.

Now he is inspiring people like his friend Rose Jangmi Cooper, who he met on the Michigan State Slam Poetry Team.

"I'm just as happy as I could ever have been to see him go from where he started in Lansing as, 'just another poet on the scene,' to being really, a community organizer," Cooper said. "So, it's not like he got this—like somebody gave him this. He worked and worked and worked and earned this, and I just love him for it."

Takahashi said the next The Poetry Room event is scheduled for May 13 at the Robin Theatre.

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