Fact Check

Rhyming Minnesota Poet Laureate Bill

Minnesota bill proposing creation of poet laureate position is written in rhyming verse.

Published Feb 19, 2007

Claim:   Minnesota bill proposing creation of poet laureate position is written in rhyming verse.

Status:   True.

Origins:   We generally expect texts produced by legislatures and courts and other governmental agencies to be stodgy, prolix, and incomprehensible, so finding one one that is short and simple and even a bit whimsical is a welcome source of amusement. We recently came across an example of such in a bill submitted to the Minnesota legislature (H.F. 224) in January 2007 for the purpose of establishing the position of a state poet laureate. The main text of the bill is a mere twenty-four lines, written entirely in rhyming verse:

Section 1. [138.99] POET LAUREATE

Subdivision 1. Appointment.

The Gov' shall appoint a state poet laureate,
Who shall serve for a four-year term.
Because this appointment will always be great,
There's no need for the Senate to confirm.
In appointing a poet for the public good,
And to ensure there's no unjust omission,
The governor shall consider, if he would
Thoughts of the Humanities Commission.

Subd. 2. Removal.

The poet will be free to write rhyming lines,
With removal only for cause,
But we trust that the bard will promptly resign,
If the verse reads as badly as laws.

Subd. 3. Compensation.

'Twould be fair to provide some just recompense
As reward for the poet's tribulations,
But because at this time we haven't the cents
We're afraid there is no compensation.
But we ask as the poet travels the state,
And the people their ears they lend,
That our learned Commission take the position
To provide the poor poet a stipend.

Subd. 4. Gifts and grants.

To provide the support that needs to come
To support our new laureate,
Gifts and grants received of a generous sum,
We hereby appropriate.

Alas, the Minnesota Daily noted that if the bill should pass, "the poem would probably be taken out of the law and go on the books in standard legalese."

Last updated:   28 February 2007

  Sources Sources:

    Blanchard, Courtney.   "Area Lawmaker Pushes for State Poet."

    The Minnesota Daily.   16 February 2007.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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