The position of Northfield Poet Laureate was established in 2016 by the Northfield Public Library, in collaboration with the City of Northfield Arts and Culture Commission. The position was funded in its initial year through a grant by the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC). The Poet Laureate organizes, hosts, and provides funding for literary events in Northfield such as Poetry Night at Content Bookstore, Writers Night, and poetry workshops in the Northfield Public Schools. The Poet Laureate also writes and recites original poems for local civic events. The Poet Laureate has worked in collaboration with the Northfield Arts Guild, the Greenvale Park Community School, Content Bookstore, the Latino (and Friends) Play Festival, Northfield High School, Northfield Middle School, Arcadia Charter School, Prairie Creek Community School, Laura Baker Services Association, FiftyNorth, the Northfield Union of Youth, and others.
The first Northfield Poet Laureate is Rob Hardy. Rob is the author of Domestication: Collected Poems, 1996-2016 (Shipwreckt Books 2017), Shelter in Place (Finishing Line Press 2022), The Collecting Jar (Grayson Books 2005), and Aeschylus, The Oresteia: An Adaptation (Hero Now Theatre 2017). Rob's writing (poetry and prose) has appeared in New England Review, Ploughshares, Rattle, New Letters, North Dakota Quarterly, and other literary and scholarly journals. His adaptation of Aeschylus's Oresteia has been staged at Carleton College and by Hero Now Theatre in Minneapolis. Rob is former member of the Northfield School Board (2012-2020) and a Research Associate in Classics at Carleton College, and editor of Bede, Historia Ecclesiastica Selections and Homer, Odyssey 9-12 (Dickinson College Commentaries).
A new poem has been printed on the steps leading up to Bridge Square from the Riverwalk in Northfield. The poem is the collaborative work of 17 local poets: Heather Candels, D.E. Green, Steve McCown, Susan Jaret McKinstry, Leslie Schultz, David Walters, Mar Valdecantos, Christine Kallman, Becky Boling, Marie Gery, Tayde Rodríguez, Lucy González Mirón, Diane LeBlanc, Alondra Pérez, Riki Kölbl Nelson, Karen Herseth Wee, and Toni Easterson. The poem was painted onto the Riverwalk steps by the former and current directors of the Northfield Public Library, Teresa Jensen and Natalie Draper.