Poet Laureate will have to buy own beer

Posted Monday, May 7th, 2007

Tri-City Herald

Olympia, WA - Gov. Chris Gregoire recently signed into law a bill creating the office of the state poet laureate. But as it turns out the Legislature could have sent her a similar bill that would have bolstered the state's beer industry.

Sen. Ken Jacobsen had a bill (stop me if you've heard this one) to create the office, too. Actually, his was a resolution but it would have directed the governor to appoint a poet laureate.

What made his so special was the compensation the measure called for.

"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED," page two of the resolution began, "that the salary of the poet laureate consist of one firkin of Washington beer per year donated by representatives of the Washington Brewers Guild."

For those of you who don't know what a firkin is, it's half a kilderkin, or put another way, one-sixth of a hogshead. You can look it up.

At any rate, it's too bad Jacobsen didn't introduce his measure in another house -- like, say, the House of Commons. Lawmakers in Olympia obviously were aware of the difficulty the good folks down in purchasing might have in acquiring a firkin of Washington beer and opted for monetary compensation.

It would seem the actual poet laureate, whoever it may be, will get more bang for their buck that way, anyway.

We did the math, probably incorrectly, and a firkin (a small barrel) would only have provided our poet laureate with eight beers a month.

But not in the unlikely event that our poet's idea of "a beer" is brew from out of a PBR tallboy can (let's not judge here people). Then it would only amount to four beers a month.

In the further unlikely event the poet laureate's idea of "a beer" is PBR out of a forty, Jacobsen's bill would have provided just 1.4 beers per month.

And just how is the state supposed to recruit and retain great poet laureates on a salary of 1.4 beers a month?



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