Connecticut, unique among all states, has both a state poet laureate and a state troubadour. The first state poet laureate was James Merrill, appointed in the mid-1980s. Merrill graciously accepted the honor but said it was unlikely he would be writing poems for state occasions like, he said, the governor's birthday. Boy, was that an understatement.
At that point in his celebrated career, Merrill's energies had been taken up by a 560-page apocalyptic epic poem based on esoteric transmissions from a ouija board. He wasn't going to be banging out any doggerel about Bill O'Neill's birthday. Subsequent poets laureate -- and there have not been very many -- have shown more engagement with the life of the state, as have the many troubadours. It may all seem a little silly, but I think it's healthy to have the arts formally engaged to our public life. Leave your comments below, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet us @wnprcolin. ***This episode originally broadcast on March 2, 2011***