It’s been nearly a year since my last update on state poets laureate. Since then, ten states have welcomed new poets laureate, four of which have been appointed since May 1:
- Beth Ann Fennelly started her term as Mississippi Poet Laureate on August 10, 2016;
- Michael Erdelen was named Premiere Poet of Indiana in October 2016 (The long-standing position of Premiere Poet is unofficial, and runs alongside the official position of Indiana Poet Laureate.);
- Tina Kane was appointed Rhode Island Poet Laureate on November 4, 2016;
- Karla Huston started her term as Wisconsin Poet Laureate on January 5, 2017
- Jeanetta Calhoun Mish began serving as Poet Laureate of Oklahoma on March 23, 2017;
- Kevin Rabas began his term as Kansas Poet Laureate on April 20, 2017;
- Frederick Smock was appointed the Poet Laureate of Kentucky on May 1, 2017;
- Paisley Rekdal became the new Poet Laureate of Utah on May 10, 2017
- Jenny Browne began her term as Texas Poet Laureate on May 18, 2017;
- and Lowell Jaeger was appointed Montana Poet Laureate on May 19, 2017. He will assume his official duties on August 1, 2017.
As of this posting, forty-three states have an official position of state poet laureate. Two states, Alaska and Idaho, have a position for “State Writer Laureate” and “Writer-in-Residence,” respectively. The position of state poet laureate or state writer is occupied in forty-two of these forty-five states.
The five states with no Poet Laureate or State Writer position are Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania. If you live in one of these states and are interested in how you can help establish a Poet Laureate position, I shared some ideas on how to do so in a May 2014 blog post. For answers to other commonly asked questions about state poets laureate, see our U.S. State Poets Laureate resource guide.
To find a complete list of U.S. state poets, and to learn more about each state’s laureateship, you can explore our state poets map. Click on the image of the map to be brought to an interactive version; you can use its drop-down menu to browse the list of current laureates.