Susan Lilley Named Orlando’s First Poet Laureate

Rollins English instructor Susan Lilley becomes the city of Orlando’s first official storyteller.

Susan Lilley at Robert Frost’s farm in Franconia, New Hampshire. Photo courtesy Susan Lilley Susan Lilley at Robert Frost’s farm in Franconia, New Hampshire. Photo courtesy Susan Lilley

Orlando’s first-ever poet laureate has been named, and the honor goes to wordsmith Susan Lilley, who teaches literature and creative writing at Trinity Preparatory School in Winter Park and has served as an instructor in Rollins’ English department since 2000.

A Florida native and UCF grad, Lilley is a natural choice to serve as Central Florida’s storyteller, having published poetry and nonfiction in American Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, The Florida Review and several other journals.

“I am so grateful that the city of Orlando sees how valuable creative writing is in the constellation of the arts in Central Florida,” says Lilley. “This program is just starting, and as the first poet laureate, I hope to set the tone by bringing opportunities for writing to different local populations, from students to older citizens with stories to tell.”

Rollins’ very own associate professor of English, Vidhu Aggarwal, was on the original selection committee that chose the finalists, selecting writers who demonstrated achievement in the art of poetry, substantial publications, significant recognition and awards, and an extensive knowledge of the city’s history.

Lilley is so excited to help shift the community’s idea of poetry from something distant to the here and now, to “the real Florida,” as she says. “I’m thrilled at the prospect of bringing poetry into more public forums and into collaboration with other kinds of artists. We are a community rich in talent, and if I can help raise the awareness of this cultural wonderland, I will be doing my job.”