Works of East St. Louis Poet Laureate being collected at SIUE

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EAST ST. LOUIS, IL (KTVI) – Eugene Redmond was named poet laureate of East St. Louis in 1976, when the nation was celebrating its bicentennial.

“East St. Louis may have been the first municipality to appoint a poet laureate,” Redmond said. “It’s my proudest honor.”

For 40 years, the Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville professor emeritus has told the stories of struggle and of those who stood to make their voice heard from their hometown of East St. Louis.

“Miles Davis, Sonny Terry, Ike and Tina Turner, Albert Blues Boy King, and others either nurtured by the city or intersected the life of the city,” Redmond said.

Redmond is compiling his collection of 40 years of writing, travel, and stories he’s gained along the way.

“All of that stuff is backdropped by a story; almost everything you touch has a story,” he said.

The new Eugene B. Redmond Learning Center has opened in the Lovejoy Library on the SIUE campus. Inside is a collection of artwork, essays and stories Redmond is sharing with future generations.

“So you get to be the place that people come to study things, the final product, the early versions that you see, the letters that they shared with individuals,” said SIUE Chancellor Randy Pembrook.

“Well I’d like to quote Maya and, of course, people said it before Maya, but, ‘We’re more alike, than unalike.’”