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Nominations due for next Montana Poet Laureate

April 9, 2019 GMT

Nominations for the next Montana Poet Laureate are due Wednesday, April 10.

The Montana Poet Laureate recognizes and honors a citizen poet of exceptional talent and accomplishment. The Poet Laureate also encourages appreciation of poetry and literary life in Montana. This position was created by the state Legislature in 2005.

The state’s current Poet Laureate, Lowell Jaeger, is an accomplished Bigfork poet and longtime Flathead Valley Community College professor.

A Wisconsin native, Jaeger has had a highly decorated career, winning a number of awards, including the Governor’s Humanities Award in 2010. He has earned fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Montana Arts Council, and is a past recipient of the Grolier Poetry Peace Prize. Jaeger has authored many collections of poems and is the founding editor of Many Voices Press.

“Poetry is such, in some ways, a strange art form, like opera or ballet,” Jaeger said in a Daily Inter Lake interview in 2017 when he received the state honor. “A lot of people are not well-informed about what it means, so I see my job as poet laureate is informing people and bringing poetry to some other people.

“Poetry is the voice of what it is to be human ... What’s there is important to everyone.”

The nomination process is simple and includes the name and hometown of the nominee, a link or upload of the poem the nominee loves the most, and a brief narrative of why that poem is a favorite, and why the poet is deserving of the honor.

Nominations for Montana’s Poet Laureate will be considered for poets who currently reside in Montana and have been a resident for at least one year. Montana Arts Council members, staff or their immediate family or household are not eligible.

Nominated poets will be contacted by the Montana Arts Council, will have the opportunity to accept the nomination, and will need to submit additional materials. A panel drawn from members of the literary community select finalists from among the nominations. The finalists are submitted to the Montana Arts Council for review and approval. The Poet Laureate of Montana is then chosen by the governor.

The position of Poet Laureate is an honorific one. Advancing and supporting the poetic arts involves reaching out to and beyond the art and literary communities in Montana to promote the appreciation of poetry as an ancient and ongoing form of expression.

Humanities Montana will invite the Poet Laureate to join its Speaker’s Bureau program. The term of service for Poet Laureate is two years. A poet who has previously served as Poet Laureate may not be renominated.

Poet Laureate nominations are measured against three criteria: artistic excellence and achievement, ongoing contributions to the cultural community, worthiness of statewide recognition

The nomination form for the Montana Poet Laureate is available. http://art.mt.gov/poet_laureate.

For more information, contact Czelsi Kozak at ckozak@mt.gov or 406-444-4700.