Kevin Stein has a daunting task: following two Pulitzer Prize winners as the poet laureate of Illinois.
Ten years into the job, the Bradley University professor is putting his own signature on the unpaid position that's considered crucial to widening appreciation for the art form. He's created a state poetry website and donates his own money to buy poetry books for libraries across the state. He also offers advice to young poets.
Gwendolyn Brooks and Carl Sandburg also held the position. Stein said following in their footsteps made him feel like the player on the Chicago Bulls chosen to replace Michael Jordan.
The 59-year-old is now Illinois' fourth poet laureate and was appointed in 2003 by ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Stein is in the middle of his third, four-year term.