Poet Laureate Day

December 20, 2020 – Alli Boyer, Adult Services

As an English major and literature lover, I feel that Poet Laureate Day is a holiday that deserves more recognition.  What is a poet laureate, you may ask? Starting back in the 1300s, poet laureates have been officially appointed poets, usually by the governing body of a country or region, assigned with composing poems for special events and occasions. Several countries participate in appointing an official Poet Laureate, and several states in the U.S. also appoint their own state-level Poet Laureates.  

On a national level, the current U.S. Poet Laureate is Joy Harjo, who was appointed as the 23rd U.S. Poet Laureate in 2019. Harjo is also the first Native American poet to hold this title and has used her position to create a signature project, “Living Nations, Living Words.”  With this project, Harjo aims to introduce many more Native American poets around the country, whose “communities innately shared and share poetry from before the founding of the United States to the present.” I recommend checking out this interactive story map to explore the nation’s Native poets and their history of sharing stories.  

Joy Harjo has two works in our collection:
An American Sunrise: Poems
Reinventing the Enemy’s Language: Contemporary Native Women’s Writing of North America

On a state level, the current Missouri Poet Laureate is Karen Craigo, who was appointed as the 5th Missouri Poet Laureate in 2019. Craigo’s signature project is to collect a poem from every county in Missouri and post them on her blog, Better View of the Moon.

Karen Craigo has two poetry collections that will soon be available at the library:
Passing Through Humansville
No More Milk

The library also has several collections from previous Poet Laureates from the U.S. and around the world:
The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems by Billy Collins
Horoscopes for the Dead by Billy Collins
Billy Collins Live: a Performance at the Peter Norton Symphony Space, April 20, 2005 (Audiobook)
The Collected Poems by Stanley Kunitz
187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border by Juan Felipe Herrera
Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes Juan Felipe Herrera
Some Spanish Ballads by W.S. Merwin
The Triumph of Achilles by Louise Gluck
A Village Life by Louise Gluck
Letters from a Father and Other Poems by Mona Van Duyn
Time and Materials: Poems by Robert Hass
River by Ted Hughes
The Lyric Impulse by Cecil Day-Lewis
Poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson
The Major Works by William Wordsworth
Opened Ground: Selected Poems by Seamus Heaney

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