Singer-songwriter John Prine named honorary Illinois Poet Laureate
The Maywood native, who passed away in April after contracting COVID-19, is the first person to receive the honor.
Legendary songwriter and folksinger John Prine was given the posthumous tribute of being named honorary Illinois Poet Laureate, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Tuesday.
“Illinois has been home to many talented poets like Carl Sandburg, Sandra Cisneros and Gwendolyn Brooks, who all used their words to inspire readers across the world,” said Pritzker in a press release. “I look forward to hearing from the next generation of great writers and announcing the next Illinois Poet Laureate in the coming months.”
Prine, a Maywood native, passed away on April 7, 2020, after contracting COVID-19. He’s the first person to receive the posthumous honorary designation.
“He leaves behind an unparalleled musical legacy and was beloved by family and millions of fans who that in Heaven he finds Paradise waitin’ just as he longed for,” Pritzker said in the proclamation, referencing lyrics from Prine’s song “Paradise.”
“I have no doubt that John would be proud and delighted to receive this recognition from his home state of Illinois,” said Fiona Whelan Prine, wife and manager of John Prine, in the press release. “Watching John, as I did many times, play to an Illinois audience was always thrilling. A homeboy delighting in the love and approval of his loyal fans — some of them family, longtime friends, old school buddies, and neighbors.”
Pritzker also announced the state’s formation of the 2020 Illinois Poet Laureate Search Committee (poets, writers, and academics from across the state) to review nominations and recommend an Illinois resident to become the next state poet laureate, a position that has been vacant since late 2017.