What, you may ask, is a poet laureate? A poet laureate is an official poet appointed by a government to promote poetry. Britain’s first semi-official Poet Laureate was Ben Johnson, appointed by King James I in 1617. Since 1937, the United States Library of Congress has appointed a Consultant in Poetry, also called a Poet Laureate. But it’s not just nations doing the appointing. Many states and cities also designate poets laureate.