Montana Poet Laureate

Tami Haaland


Photo of Tami Haaland

Tami Haaland is the author of two books of poetry: Breath in Every Room, winner of the Nicholas Roerich Prize from Story Line Press, and When We Wake in the Night, a finalist for the May Swenson Award. She is a graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars and a professor of English at Montana State University Billings. She has been teaching creative writing at Montana Women’s Prison since 2008 and she coordinates a writing-in-the-schools program for Arts Without Boundaries. Haaland serves on the board of directors for Arts Without Boundaries, Reflections West (a public radio program produced by Lisa Simon at Montana Public Radio), and Rimrock Opera. She also serves as an advisory board member for Aerie International, an arts and literary journal produced at Big Sky High School in Missoula. Haaland co-founded and co-edited five issues of Stone’s Throw Magazine with fiction writer Russell Rowland. This magazine published many Montana writers alongside national and international selections. Haaland has received awards from the Montana Arts Council and Humanities Montana.

Haaland’s poetry has appeared in Calyx, the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, High Desert Journal, South Dakota Review and other periodicals. Her poems have also appeared online in The Writer’s Almanac and Verse Daily. Two poems from When We Wake in the Night will be featured on American Life in Poetry, sponsored by The Poetry Foundation, in 2013. In addition, her work has been anthologized in a dozen places, including Literature: An Introduction by X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia and The Ecopoetry Anthology edited by Laura-Gray Street and Ann Fisher-Wirth. Haaland’s essays concerning Montana poets and writers have appeared in Drumlummon Views and State of the Arts and are forthcoming in two anthologies: Mythology and Modern Women Poets: Analysis, Reflection and Teaching edited by Colleen Harris, and Reading Montana Poetry, edited by Brady Harrison and Lisa Simon.

In her own words:
“Montana has been my home for most of my life. I was born on the Hi-Line where my family farmed south of Inverness near the Marias River. Both maternal and paternal grandparents homesteaded in this area; earlier, at the turn of the century, my great grandfather worked as a carpenter in the Butte mines where he and his wife raised my paternal grandmother. Prior to settling on the Hi-Line, she and my grandfather lived in Butte where she worked as a nanny and my grandfather mined copper.

Perhaps because of these long ties to the state, I have spent considerable time researching Montana’s literary heritage, particularly its poetry. Over the past ten years, I have presented at book festivals and written on this subject for Drumlummon Views and the State of the Arts News, and two new essays about Montana poets are forthcoming in anthologies. Over this same period I have reviewed poetry for local newspapers and selected poetry for publication in Stone’s Throw Magazine, an online magazine which I founded and published with Montana fiction writer, Russell Rowland.

But beyond writing about poetry, I have been engaged in community activities. I have offered numerous writing workshops for young people and community members, participated in the creation of writers’ groups, arranged poetry readings, and taught creative writing and literature in Montana Women’s Prison for nearly five years. Most recently, I assisted in the formation of Big Sky Writer’s Workshops which will focus on community outreach and creative writing workshops in collaboration with Montana State University Billings and other organizations. I am also currently directing a poets-in-the-schools program for Arts Without Boundaries. Modeled after the fine work of the Missoula Writing Collaborative, this program allows a poet to work with third grade students once a week for a period of twelve weeks.”

Tami Haaland's poems may begin in the quotidian details of domestic life, but they unfold into moments of quiet epiphany. She sets her poems in the austere landscape and small towns of the Western Mountain States, but her real subject is the human heart and mind.
– Dana Gioia, former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts

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