Will Reger

Will Reger, Urbana Poet Laureate

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Looking for a pandemic pick-me-up?

Will Reger is your man. He’s offering to write a poem about, well, whatever you want.

As Urbana’s inaugural recipient of the title Poet Laureate, a position he’s held since July 2019, it’s his mission to elevate the art of poetry in our community.

“I began to write poems as gifts for people when my plans were sidelined by the pandemic,” Reger said. “We had some events get canceled and I was thinking of ways I could still be relevant as a poet to the community. I call these poems ‘Happy Gift Poems.’”

Since he started this project he’s written more than 40 poems.

“The responses I’ve received over the last month or so suggest that people are made happy or are pleased or excited or thrilled ... though a couple of folks did move on without comment, I can only assume my poems are not for everybody.”

Reger honed his poetry skills by writing alternate lyrics for popular songs as a youngster in the St. Louis area.

After taking time off from writing poetry during his academic years — he received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Illinois — a nudge from a friend got him back in the game.

“Becoming Poet Laureate has taken my writing into a public space, which I believe has made me a better poet,” Reger said.

Want Reger to write you a poem (it’s free, by the way)? Hit him up on Twitter @wmreger or email him at wmreger@gmail.com. Why should you do it? Here’s Reger’s response, in poetry form, of course:

Your grandma has one

and so does your cousin.

Your significant other

and even your bratty brother

have gotten poems for themselves

For you, how about a villanelle?

For more of Reger’s work, check out “Poets and the Pandemic” series (formerly Poets on a Park Bench) on YouTube to hear from many of the poets in our community.