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John Prine Named Illinois’ First Honorary Poet Laureate

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 12: John Prine performs onstage during the 2018 Americana Music Honors and Awards at Ryman Auditorium on September 12, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Davis/Getty Images for Americana Music Association)

John Prine achieved something that no other person in Illinois history has: the singer/songwriter was named the state’s first honorary Illinois Poet Laureate. In a state that was the home to legendary writers, this is no small feat.

Gov. JB Pritzker made the declaration in a release today.

“Illinois has been home to many talented poets like Carl Sandburg, Sandra Cisneros, and Gwendolyn Brooks who all used their words to inspire readers across the world. Today, I’m excited to announce the search committee that will recommend our next state poet laureate,” he said.

Prine is a native of Maywood, a western suburb of Chicago.

“It’s also my honor to name our state’s first honorary poet laureate,” Pritzker continued. “John Prine leaves behind an unparalleled musical legacy and was beloved by family and millions of fans who hope that in Heaven he finds Paradise waitin’ just as he longed for.”

The legendary singer/songwriter died in April due to complications from the coronavirus. Many of Prine’s peers and admirers, including,  Elvis CostelloJeff TweedyBonnie RaittLilly HiattNatalie MainesJim JamesRoger Waters, paid tribute and recently, there was a livestreamed dedication to his legacy. At its conclusion, Prine’s final song, “I Remember Everything,” was unveiled. It was produced by Dave Cobb and co-written by longtime collaborator Pat McLaughlin.