State Poets Laureate

Hard to believe our founding fathers did not mandate in the U.S. Constitution that every state must have a state poet laureate. Oh well. Here’s a breakdown of the LOC’s list of current state laureates.

State Poets Laureate
Alabama - Sue Walker
Alaska - Nancy Lord
Arkansas - Peggy Vining
California - Carol Muske-Dukes
Colorado - David Mason
Connecticut - Dick Allen
Delaware - JoAnn Balingit
District of Columbia - Dolores Kendrick
Florida - Edmund Skellings
Georgia - David Bottoms
Idaho - Anthony "Tony" Doerr
Illinois - Kevin Stein
Indiana - Unofficial: Carol Ogdon Floyd, Official: Karen Kovacik
Iowa - Mary Swander
Kansas - Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg
Kentucky - Gurney Norman
Louisiana - Julie Kane
Maine - Wesley McNair
Maryland - Stanley Plumly
Minnesota - Robert Bly
Missouri - David Clewell
Montana - Henry Real Bird
New Hampshire - Walter E. Butts
New York - Jean Valentine
North Carolina - Cathy Smith Bowers
North Dakota - Larry Woiwode
Oklahoma - Jim Barnes
Oregon - Paulann Petersen
Rhode Island - Lisa Starr
South Carolina - Marjory Heath Wentworth
South Dakota - David Allan Evans
Tennessee - Margaret Britton Vaughn
Texas - David M. Parsons
Utah - Katharine Coles
Vermont - Ruth Stone
Virginia - Kelly Cherry
West Virginia - Irene McKinney
Wisconsin - Bruce Dethlefsen
Wyoming - David Romtvedt

States with vacant laureate positions

States with no laureate position
New Jersey
New Mexico

If you live in a state with a poet laureate, what does he/she do?

It’s a shame that my state, Massachusetts—a state with a large college/university population—does not have a state poet laureate. And why does Indiana have an official and an unofficial laureate?

Not a diverse list of poets, unfortunately.

If you're in a state with a vacant position, fill it! If your state doesn't have a position, that's an opportunity to help define it. This is job creation, baby!


pointy said…
minnesota made out like a bandit
real bird - now there's a name for a poet
nebraska's poet laureates are usually pretty corny
Maureen said…
I did a series of profiles on each of the state PLs. It was a wonderful experience to research each of them and get to know a bit of their work. All the profiles are at my blog. I plan to update whenever a new PL is appointed.
Susan Rich said…
Washington State had one PL: Sam Green. He gave readings all over the state and promoted the work of other WA State poets whenever he read. After his 2 or 3 year term the position was put on hold and the funding pulled...It was great while it lasted..
Collin Kelley said…
David Bottoms has been poet laureate by default because our last two Republican governors could give a damn. There was a big flurry and announcement six or seven years ago where a new laureate was to be selected then it never happened. Sadly, I think the governor's office has forgotten their is a poet laureate of Georgia.
Erin said…
Current Alaska State Writer is a poet - Peggy Shumaker - awesome poet and wonderful person.
January said…
Those laureate positions come in with a flurry and then are forgotten when a new regime takes over. Sad but true.

Thanks for sharing the laureate info. so interesting how each state handles the position.
dylan said…
Unbelievable that MA doesn't have a poet laureate!
drew said…
Oregon has a very rich literary tradition with very active PLs. William Stafford was our first.

Seeing this list,and hearing from others, I feel very lucky to live in a place that values poets.

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