Laureates Aren’t Just for Poetry: a Fruit-Forward Manifesto

by Syrah Linsley, Fruit Laureate

I tend to associate the word Laureate with poets and writers. I’m a writer myself (more specifically: an essayist). The most common type of literary laureate has been the Poet Laureate—including city-level Laureates and youth Poet Laureates—but other categories have emerged over time. Alaska designates a more general Writer Laureate, which encompasses nonfiction and fiction in addition to poetry. The UK appoints its own Comics Laureate.



In Anne Carson’s book Economy of the Unlost, she suggests that Simonides of Keos (also spelled “Ceos”: c. 556 BC to 468 BC) was the first person to “professionalize poetry” by taking compensation for his compositions. In other words, technically, he might have been the world’s first Poet Laureate.

In the past, Laureateship was not much more than a title and a stipend, but in recent years the focus has shifted from distinction to action. Laureates now are passionate representatives of their subject, whatever that may be, and they cultivate new and creative ways of sharing that passion in their communities—whether online or in person, whether local or national or international. 



My fruit obsession runs deep, starting with my late high school and early college years as a fruitarian (only eating fruit). I could eat a large watermelon in one sitting or 14 honey mangoes in one sitting, and my record for eating bananas was 38 in one day. I started reading books and watching documentaries about fruit. One of my first creative nonfiction essays was themed around fruit. I visited Florida’s Fruit and Spice Park—the only area in the United States that is capable of growing tropical fruit—and the nearby Robert Is Here fruit stand, where I tried rare fruits like canistel, sapodilla, guanabana, and mamey sapote.

I graduated from Michigan State University with my bachelor’s degree in agribusiness, where I focused my studies on fruit and vegetable supply chains. My first full-time job was in R&D at a fruit and vegetable processing facility, and now I work at Old Orchard Brands as the manager of their fruit ingredient supply division. In 2022, I was named a 40 under 40 by Fruit Growers News and was a year-long inaugural NextGen Fellow with USApple.



Despite my practical relationship to fruit—the degree, the diet, the day job—I believe that fruit holds more power than meets the eye. Encountering fruit can be a creative experience, if not poetic to the core. I’m interested in how fruit manifests in poetry, music, the visual arts, immersive or digital installations. So here I am: finding connections between fruit and the arts.

 I look forward to this journey as the world’s first and only Fruit Laureate—whether sharing fruit-themed excerpts and artwork or celebrating fruit with fellow enthusiasts and industry professionals. You can find me on Instagram @fruitlaureate and on Facebook at /fruitlaureate. I look forward to being fruit-forward together.





P. S. If this post gives you déjà vu, you might be remembering a similar post from my old website,, when I was more focused on hard cider. Now that I rarely drink alcohol, I’ve rebranded to Fruit Laureate.



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