Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x1 *** John Prine named first Illinois Honorary Poet Laureate, but there’s one thing left to do
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*** UPDATED x1 *** John Prine named first Illinois Honorary Poet Laureate, but there’s one thing left to do

Wednesday, Jul 1, 2020

* Wordslinger sent me an email in October of 2017 ahead of the Illinois bicentennial entitled “Bicentennial/Ebert/Prine/Goodman.” He was referring to Roger Ebert, John Prine and Steve Goodman…

I’d like to see those cats carved on the Illinois State Library, because they’re the best Illinois writers of their time.


I’m serious about this, I’m going to ask for your help.

I want to see it before Johnny dies.

Unfortunately, Wordslinger passed away last year and Prine passed earlier this year. We have some unfinished business to attend to here.

I told you in March that when this crazy pandemic was over, I planned to urge Secretary of State Jesse White to consider having Ebert’s and Prine’s names carved into the state library. A high-level official reached out to me later that day to say he would be up for it. Goodman should be on there, too. Let’s get this done.

* In the meantime, we have this thanks to the governor

To commemorate the life of Illinois native John Prine and celebrate his writing and musical contributions, Governor Pritzker has proclaimed Prine an Honorary Poet Laureate of the state. The legendary singer-song writer, who was born in Maywood, passed away on April 7, 2020 after contracting COVID-19. Prine is the first to receive such an honorary designation.

“I have no doubt that John would be proud and delighted to receive this recognition from his home state of Illinois,” said Fiona Whelan Prine, wife of John Prine. “Although he had moved to Nashville in the early 1980’s, he continued to visit Chicago, and Maywood in particular, to spend time with his family. John continued to follow Chicago sports teams and had never found a hot dog, pizza or Italian Beef sandwich to rival the originals. Watching John, as I did many times, play to an Illinois audience was always thrilling. A home boy delighting in the love and approval of his loyal fans - some of them family, longtime friends, old school buddies and neighbors.”

Whelan Prine added, “John had a great respect for Writers of all kinds. He regarded Poets as being among those whose work carried weight, relevance and elevated craft. It is such an honor for me, our sons, and the entire Prine family to acknowledge that our beloved John will be named an Honorary Poet Laureate of the State of Illinois. Thank you, Governor Pritzker, for this wonderful recognition.”

The proclamation is here.

* Prine’s last song was released earlier this month. He still had it

I remember everything, things I can’t forget
Swimin’ pools of butterflies would slip right through the net
And I remember every night, your ocean eyes of blue
I miss you in the morning light like roses miss the dew

*** UPDATE *** From Henry Haupt at the Illinois SoS…


We think this is a great idea. We are looking into this to see what steps are needed and what — if any — other agencies must be involved.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:33 am:

    “Let’s get this done.”

    What’s the next step?

    – MrJM

  2. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:36 am:

    ===What’s the next step?===

    I sent a link to this post to a member of White’s staff. We’ll see I suppose. I may need to set up some sort of website urging it or something.

  3. - thunderspirit - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:37 am:

    Like MrJM, I’m in.

  4. - LoyalVirus - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:42 am:

    Pick me pick me

  5. - Froganon - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:46 am:

    Me and my book club, the Ruthless Readers (nobody named Ruth in our group) and not much clout but we can generate letters and calls.

  6. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:48 am:

    What can I do. I’m in.

    Point of personal privilege, but to the post,

    To say I’m very lacking in music, well, that’s giving those actually lacking some serious kudus.

    I came to John Prine late. I’m still finding out and enjoying his music and I’m glad I’ve been exposed to his greatness.

    There’s a series on Amazon Prime… binge it… you won’t regret, I promise.

    Imagine Coen Brothers and Wes Anderson… after going to a dispensary, k… it’s genius.

    Not giving anything away… but it’s a homage in so many ways to John Prine… and when I realized it, my sincere appreciation of his music, lyrics, body of work… I mean… wow.

    So, I’m all in, tell me what and how, let’s do this.

  7. - Joe Bidenopolous - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:53 am:

    John Prine was my gateway drug to folk, country and Americana, and I’ve really never looked back, though I certainly still appreciate the punk of my youth and various forms of rock and roll. I’m in and will do whatever I can to help.

    OW - what’s the series you’re referring to?

  8. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 11:58 am:

    OW: Can you be more specific about the Amazon Prime series? Thx.

    To the post: Prine produced so much of such high quality…and the depth of thought and feeling in his work is beyond the ability of someone like me to articulate.

    Is this something for the GA to act on?

  9. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 12:01 pm:

    The list of authors currently carved on the exterior is here:

  10. - Back to the Future - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 12:05 pm:

    Count me in to support this idea.
    I saw John Prine in person many times and still have his first vinyl album.

  11. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 12:06 pm:

    - Pot calling kettle -

    My apologies;


  12. - Joe Bidenopolous - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 12:13 pm:

    ==The list of authors currently carved on the exterior==

    That’s a really impressive list that would be better with Prine

  13. - OutHereInTheMiddle - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 1:06 pm:

    Absolutely in on this. Petitions. Donations. I’ll be there. Bought his first album when I was in college and listened my whole life.

  14. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 1:31 pm:

    Prine’s last appearance on Austin City Limits is here: (need to be a member of a PBS station to view it)

    As always, an amazing performance.

  15. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 1:38 pm:

    To the update…

    ===We think this is a great idea. We are looking into this to see what steps are needed and what — if any — other agencies must be involved.===

    Made me smile, made me feel a happy feel.

    Pretty cool. Still, whatever “needs doing”, I’m on board.

  16. - Mr. K. - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 2:24 pm:

    I’m in. I saw Prine several times — first time in the Quad Cities around 1990 with Arlo Guthrie.

    Then in Ames, Iowa with the Cowboy Junkies.

    Funniest, most entertaining musician I’ve ever seen I was walking through Nashville in September — pre-pandemic — and I knew Prine lived around there. I kept going into bars hoping maybe I’d see Prine — either drinking with his wife Fiona — or playing.

    RIP. Greatest songwriter of our generation.

  17. - Amalia - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 2:48 pm:

    Nice job taking up the cause, Rich.

  18. - Nameless - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 4:08 pm:

    ’bout time! Steve needs to be there too.

  19. - filmmaker prof - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 4:28 pm:

    By the way, the Poet Laureate of the United States until recently taught at the University of Illinois, Urbana, but left due to the school and community being saturated with Native American stereotyped imagery.

  20. - Flapdoodle - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 4:35 pm:

    This is very cool [vertical line with dot at bottom]

    Well done, Rich [another vertical line with dot at bottom]. Tell us how to help.

    Kudos to the SoS office for its quick support.

  21. - Tinman - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 4:55 pm:

    Good idea, but should do the same for Dan Fogelberg

  22. - anon - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 5:24 pm:

    As with Bob Dylan being given a Nobel Prize in Literature, why is Prine being given a “poet” laureate? Songwriter laureate, absolutely. But this need to appropriate literary awards for the supposed greater prestige of an artist in a different field does a disservice to those who are actually poets. And spare me the the whole his-lyrics-are-like-poetry. Apples and oranges. Which is not any insult to Prine who was superb at his distinct and separate art.

  23. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 8:03 pm:

    “this need to appropriate literary awards for the supposed greater prestige of an artist in a different field does a disservice to those who are actually poets”

    I’m sure “those who are actually poets” are lovely and meritorious people, but if one of them had been named as Honorary Poet Laureate of the state, few of us would know and fewer still would care.

    – MrJM

  24. - Nieva - Wednesday, Jul 1, 20 @ 9:34 pm:

    Love me some JP.

  25. - Exit 59 - Thursday, Jul 2, 20 @ 9:17 am:

    Well done. Stay the course.

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