My last update on state poets laureate was in December 2015, so this post is long overdue! As I reviewed my files for this post, I was surprised to learn that during the past seven months the Poets Laureate of ten states have changed. In fact, just in the past few weeks three new state Poets Laureate have been appointed:
- Aliki Barnstone was appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon as Poet Laureate of of Missouri on June 30;
- Eugene M. Gagliano was appointed the new Poet Laureate for Wyoming by Gov. Matt Mead on July 11;
- and on July 15, Tim Seibles was appointed Poet Laureate of Virginia by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
And here are the other changes in state Poet Laureate positions since the beginning of the year:
- Shari Wagner began serving her term as the official Indiana State Poet Laureate on January 1;
- Amit Majmudar began serving as Ohio’s first poet laureate on January 1;
- Rhode Island’s Poet Laureate, Rick Benjamin, resigned from his position on January 15, 2016;
- Tod Marshall was appointed Poet Laureate of Washington on February 1, 2016;
- Yusef Komunyakaa was inaugurated as New York State Poet on February 11;
- Stuart Kestenbaum began serving as Poet Laureate of Maine on March 24, 2016;
- and Elizabeth Woody assumed the position of Oregon Poet Laureate on April 27, 2016.
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-one 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.
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.