Poetry is one of those art forms that can sometimes appear antiquated or irrelevant in an age of YouTube videos, bestselling young adult book series, and Netflix stream binge watching. But if you look at social media outlets like Twitter—where the objective is to be eloquent in 140 characters or less—choosing your words with precision and for maximum effect is a talent to which many of us aspire. Being able to express human longing and shared experience in an economy of words is an exercise that has commonalities with traditional poetry.

In an effort to promote poetry to a wider audience in Brookline, in 2012 the Board of Selectman created the post of Brookline poet laureate with the coordination of the Brookline Commission for the Arts. Their stated purpose for the poet laureate program is “to enhance Brookline’s cultural life, promote awareness and appreciation of poetry and the literary arts, and connect members of the community through poetry.” The poet laureate receives a $2,000 per year honorarium for efforts that include educating residents about the art and practice of reading and writing poetry and serving as resident poet at town events.

The first poet to be so honored was Judith Steinbergh, author of the poetry collections Motherwriter, A Living Anytime and Writing My Will. Steinbergh, also a teacher and scholar, created several poetry initiatives while laureate, including A World of Poetry in Brookline, which focused on foreign language poems, and The Poetry Brookline Project, inviting people of all ages to contribute poems about the town.

Now, just in time for National Poetry Month, Brookline has a new poet laureate: Jan Schreiber. Schreiber is the author of four books of poetry, including Peccadilloes (2013) and Wily Apparitions (1992), as well as a book of literary criticism, Sparring with the Sun: Poets and the Way We Think About Poetry in the Late Days of Modernism (2013). He was also a founder of the journal Canto: Review of the Arts.

Schreiber is currently formulating his plans as Brookline’s poet laureate, but he has a few ideas.

“I hope to have input into the poetry series at the Brookline Library and give local exposure to some important contemporary writers of poems and prose,” he said via email.

Schreiber’s own favorite poets include—among the ancients—Thomas Wyatt, Fulke Greville, John Donne, and Ben Jonson. His favorite modern poets include Wallace Stevens, Louise Bogan, Elizabeth Bishop, W.H. Auden, Philip Larkin, and Gwendolyn Brooks. Among living poets, Schreiber named Derek Walcott (who lived in Brookline when he won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1992), Richard Wilbur, and Don Paterson, among many others.

I asked Schreiber how we teach the next generation of readers—distracted as they are by digital media—to appreciate poetry.

“We can expose them to fine poetry in school, and we can encourage those who take to it to read widely and deeply,” Schreiber said. “We can make sure young people hear poems as well as reading them on the page—the Poetry Out Loud program is excellent in this regard.

“But poetry, like chess and hockey, will not inspire everybody. And only a very few will develop expertise in writing it. That’s OK. Even those who just read it with attention will find it expands and deepens the mind.”

—Jennifer Campaniolo