Select a state below to learn more about the history of its poet laureateship, including the names of any current and former state poets laureate.
Current South Dakota Laureate: Vacant
Position History: Position established 1937 with the appointment of Charles "Badger" Clark. Position enacted by Legislature in 1959 (SL 1959, ch 307; SDC Supp 1960, § 55.0115). Text of law available online as part of the South Dakota Codified Laws, Sec. 1-22-7. The laureate is "appointed by the Governor to serve during the pleasure of the Governor."
On September 27, 2014, poet laureate David Allan Evans resigned after more than 12 years in office in order to provide an opportunity for other poets to serve in the position External. He served as Poet Laureate Emeritus until the the appointment of Lee Ann Roripaugh as the state's next Poet Laureate.
On March 13, 2015, Senate Bill 86, which limits the term of the South Dakota Poet Laureate to four years, was signed into law by Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
Christine Stewart-Nuñez vacated the position in 2021 to teach at the University of Manitoba, and the position has since been vacant. By law, a new poet laureate should have been appointed on July 1, 2023, but the South Dakota State Poetry Society's top recommendation for state poet was not approved by Governor Noem External. A second nominee has since been submitted to Governor Noem, who has yet to make a decision on the poet.
Current Tennessee Laureate: Margaret Britton Vaughn
Start of Term: 1999 (lifetime appointment)
Position History: Position established 1971-1972 (87th General Assembly, House Joint Res. 115; 90th General Assembly, House Joint Res. 250; 99th General Assembly, House Joint Res. 133). First laureate was Richard M. "Pek" Gunn. The poet is appointed by the General Assembly.
Current Texas Laureate: Lupe Mendez
Start of Term: 2022
Position History: According to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, "Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 82, 43rd Legislature, Regular Session External (1933) authorized appointment of a committee by the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the House to designate an outstanding and recognized poet, who is also a citizen of the state of Texas, as poet laureate." As established by SB 1043 of the 77th Legislature, the state poet laureate currently is selected for a one-year appointment by the Texas Poet Laureate, State Musician and State Artist Committee.
Current Utah Laureate: Paisley Rekdal
Start of Term: May 10, 2017
Position History: Position established January 24, 1997, with the appointment of David Lee by Mike Leavitt. The position was administered originally by the Utah State Poet Laureate Program, a collaborative effort between the Governor's Office and the Utah Arts Council Literature Program. It is currently administered by the Utah Division of Arts & Museums. The State Poet Laureate holds this position for five years and travels throughout the state to promote literature, particularly poetry, through speaking and reading engagements at colleges, universities, schools, community centers and other public venues.
Current Vermont Laureate: Mary Ruefle
Start of Term: October 28, 2019
Position History: The Vermont Arts Council notes External:
Robert Frost was declared Poet Laureate in 1961 upon the adoption of Joint House Resolution 54 by the General Assembly. In 1988 Governor Kunin re-established the position (reference: Executive Order No 69, 1988). Galway Kinnell was the first State Poet named for a term of 4 years as a result of this 1989 order.
. . .
The position was known under the title of State Poet from 1988-2007. The position was re-designated Poet Laureate by Governor James Douglas at Ruth Stone’s investiture in 2007.
Current Virginia Laureate: Luisa A. Igloria
Start of Term: July 29, 2020
Position History: Position established December 18, 1936; codified in Virginia Code, § 1-512. The text of the law follows:
The honorary position of Poet Laureate of Virginia is hereby created. Beginning in 1998, the Governor may appoint a poet laureate from a list of nominees submitted by the Poetry Society of Virginia. Each poet laureate shall serve a term of two years with no restrictions on reappointment.
(1997, c. 299, § 7.1-43; 2005, c. 839.)
The first Virginia state poet laureate was Carter Warner Wormeley, who served a lifetime appointment. Poets laureate from Charles Day to Ruby Altizer Roberts were appointed to one-year terms by the General Assembly.
Current Washington Laureate:Rena Priest
Start of Term:
Position History: Ella Higginson was named the first unofficial Washington poet laureate External by the Washington State Federation of Women's Clubs on June 17, 1931. House Bill 1279, which established the official position of Washington State Poet Laureate, was signed by Gov. Christine Gregoire April 19, 2007, and became effective July 22, 2007. The state poet serves a two-year appointment. Due to a budget shortfall, the position, which carries a stipend of $10,000, was suspended at the end of Samuel Green's term in December 2009. Gov. Gregoire permitted the position to resume in 2011, provided no state funds were used. The position is currently funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities Washington.
Current West Virginia Laureate: Marc Harshman
Start of Term: May 17, 2012
Position History: Position established 1927 (Code, Sec. 29-7-1). The text of the law follows:
§29-7-1. Appointment; qualifications; salary.
There shall be a poet laureate of West Virginia, who shall be appointed by, and serve during the will and pleasure of the governor. No person shall be eligible to such appointment who is not a resident of this state, and who has not written and published poems of recognized merit. The poet laureate shall receive an annual salary of two thousand dollars, payable in equal quarterly installments.
The first West Virginia state poet laureate was Karl Myers. The poet laureate is appointed by the governor and, previously, served "during the will and pleasure of the governor." Currently, laureates serve a term of two years with no restrictions on reappointment.
Current Wisconsin Laureate: Dasha Kelly Hamilton
Start of Term: January 11, 2021
Position History: Governor Tommy Thompson created a Poet Laureate Nominating Commission "in Executive Order 404, July 31, 2000, to recommend candidates for the poet laureate of Wisconsin. The 7 members were appointed to 4-year terms. Each of 5 organizations recommended one person for membership: the Council for Wisconsin Writers, the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, the Wisconsin Regional Writers Association, the Wisconsin Humanities Council, and the Wisconsin Arts Board. The governor directed the commission to recommend three candidates; assign responsibilities to the poet laureate; and assist that individual in performing official duties. The poet laureate is required to choose and lead one project that will contribute to the growth of poetry in this state subject to commission approval; plan and attend at least four statewide literary events each year; and perform in at least four government, state, and civil events as requested by the governor’s office, school systems, and literary organizations. Governor Thompson appointed Ellen Kort, of Appleton, to a four-year term in December 2000" (State of Wisconsin 2001-2002 Blue Book External, p. 338).
On February 4, 2011, The Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission received a form letter from the office of Gov. Scott Walker indicating that the commission would be abolished. In May 2011, the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters announced that it would steward the Wisconsin Poet Laureate program for as long was necessary to ensure its survival and support the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission. Bruce Dethlefsen continued to serve as Wisconsin Poet Laureate for a two-year term through 2012.
Current Wyoming Laureate: Eugene (Gene) M. Gagliano
Start of Term: July 11, 2016
Position History: Position established 1981. Wyoming's first laureate was Peggy Simson Curry, appointed through Executive Order 1981-1 by Gov. Ed Herschler on January 14, 1981. The Wyoming State Archives notes that "historically, the term of service has varied by individual, but in recent years, new poet laureates are announced around Wyoming's statehood day, July 10, and have served two year terms."
The Wyoming Arts Council adds External that "the appointment of the Poet Laureate is at the Governor’s discretion. The Wyoming Arts Council solicits and compiles materials for consideration when requested by the Governor’s Office."