State Poets Update: New North Carolina Laureate Selected; Ohio Creates State Poet Position

‘Tis the season to be jolly, especially if you’re a poetry lover in North Carolina or Ohio!

Five months after Valerie Macon resigned as North Carolina poet laureate due to a controversy over her qualifications and the process through which she was appointed, a new North Carolina laureate has been selected. Governor Pat McCrory announced the appointment of Shelby Stephenson as the state’s new laureate yesterday, noting that the current selection process adhered more closely to previously established guidelines:

We recognize that we didn’t follow the traditional process during the last selection. However, this time my appointment comes from the strong recommendation of Secretary Kluttz and the distinguished members of the selection panel. Mr. Stephenson’s selection is a reflection of their excellent work, and North Carolina owes them a debt of gratitude.
Statehouse, Columbus, Ohio

Statehouse, Columbus, Ohio. Carol M. Highsmith, 2009.

In other state poet news, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed Amended Substitute Senate Bill Number 84 into law on December 19, 2014, creating the position of Ohio Poet Laureate. Ohio becomes the forty-fifth state with an official state poet laureate or state writer position. The five states without a position are Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania. Massachusetts, however, may not be part of this small group for long: House Bill 2999, introduced by Rep. Sarah K. Peake and creating “the position of poet laureate for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” is currently in the House Committee on Bills in Third Reading, awaiting action before the current session ends on January 5, 2015.

If you live in Massachusetts or another state without a poet laureate, you may wish to review our previous post on ways to encourage or support the creation of a state poet laureate position.

U.S. State Poets Laureate as of December 23, 2014

State Laureate
Alabama Andrew Glaze
Alaska Vacant
Arizona Alberto Ríos
Arkansas Peggy Vining
California Juan Felipe Herrera
Colorado Joseph Hutchison
Connecticut Dick Allen
Delaware JoAnn Balingit
District of Columbia Dolores Kendrick
Florida Vacant
Georgia Judson Mitcham
Hawaii Kealoha (Steven Kealohapau’ole Hong-Ming Wong)
Idaho Diane Raptosh
Illinois Kevin Stein
Indiana Unofficial: Cecil Tresslar
Official: George Kalamaras
Iowa Mary Swander
Wyatt Townley
Kentucky Frank X Walker
Louisiana Ava Leavell Haymon
Maine Wesley McNair
Maryland Stanley Plumly
Massachusetts No position
Michigan No position
Minnesota Joyce Sutphen
Mississippi Natasha Trethewey
Missouri William Trowbridge
Montana Tami Haaland
Nebraska Twyla Hansen
Nevada Vacant
New Hampshire Alice B. Fogel
New Jersey No position
New Mexico No position
New York Marie Howe
North Carolina Shelby Stephenson
North Dakota
Larry Woiwode
Ohio Vacant
Oklahoma Nathan Brown
Oregon Peter Sears
No Position
Rhode Island Rick Benjamin
South Carolina Marjory Heath Wentworth
South Dakota David Allan Evans
Tennessee Margaret Britton Vaughn
Texas Dean Young
Utah Lance Larsen
Vermont Sydney Lea
Virginia Ron Smith
Washington Elizabeth Austen
West Virginia Marc Harshman
Wisconsin Max Garland
Wyoming Echo Roy Klaproth


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