Shirley LeFlore | St. Louis Public Radio

Shirley LeFlore

St. Louis Poet Laureate Michael Castro delivers a poem before the ceremonial swearing-in of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen in 2015.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 3:00  p.m., Dec. 28, with "St. Louis on the Air" segment – When Michael Castro spoke in the City Hall Rotunda last month to pass the St. Louis poet laureate torch to his good friend Shirley LeFlore, he beamed.

It was clear that cancer was taking its toll on his body, but his spirit seemed defiantly filled with joy. He smiled big, hugged long and was so thrilled it was as if he was getting installed all over again.

Shirley Bradley LeFlore was installed as St. Louis City’s Poet Laureate in a special ceremony Friday, November 9 in the City Hall Rotunda. She will serve as Poet Laureate until April of 2019, when she is succeeded by Jane Ellen Ibur.
St. Louis American

There was more than a year of back-and-forth about who should succeed St. Louis’ inaugural Poet Laureate Michael Castro. But the moral of this story is the triumph of artist Shirley LeFlore. She was sworn in as Castro’s successor during a civic ceremony on Nov. 9 at City Hall.

“This goes down in St. Louis records – in the history books – so 200 years from now people can look back and see that you were our Poet Laureate,” her daughter Lyah Beth LeFlore told her mother. “Make sure Bella knows,” Shirley LeFlore said in response, speaking of Lyah’s 5-year-old daughter – her youngest grandchild.

Michael Castro
Ros Crenshaw

Updated to include Michael Castro's poetry and interview audio, and reaction from poet Shirley Bradford LeFlore.

Except for dotting the “i’s” and crossing a “t” or two, St. Louis has its first official poet.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 30, 2013: In her poems, Shirley Bradley LeFlore tells stories; and often, those stories are about women.

“I felt that women represent so much, as mothers, being a mother myself, being a girl, being an active person, a traveler, a woman that was always, from a girl, interested in watching people, listening to them,” she says. “I would say that runs through a lot of my work.”