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Montana Poet Laureate Program

What is the Montana Poet Laureate Position?

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.

In 2005, Sandra Alcosser became our first Montana Poet Laureate and served for two years. Greg Pape was selected as the second Poet Laureate in 2007 and he served through the summer of 2009. Henry Real Bird was selected in 2009 and served into the summer of 2011. Sheryl Noethe served until the summer of 2013. Tami Haaland was selected to serve as Montana Poet Laureate until the summer of 2015.

What is the Term of Service and Compensation?

The term of service for the next Poet Laureate will be two years, beginning in the summer of 2015. The award is honorific. A poet who has served as Poet Laureate may not be re-nominated.

Who is eligible to be nominated Poet Laureate of Montana?

Citizens of the state of Montana may nominate a poet for the Poet Laureate position by following the application process offered in this document. Montanans are encouraged to nominate poets from all walks of life, and all poetry forms are welcome. Nominations for Montana's Poet Laureate will be accepted for poets who meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Poet must be a resident of Montana for at least one year.
  • Poet and Nominator must be at least 21 years old.
  • Poet must have produced work of the highest caliber and critical acclaim and have contributed substantial service to the development of the literary arts as demonstrated by the submitted application.
  • Poet has had at least one book of poetry published, which may be self-published, but not by a vanity press. *Note: A vanity press is defined as one that does any of the following: requires individual writers to pay for part or all of the publication costs, asks writers to buy or sell copies of the publication, publishes the work of anyone who subscribes to the publication or joins the organization through membership fees, publishes the work of anyone who buys an advertisement in the publication, or publishes work without competitive selection.
  • Poet's submitted work samples may be on any topic although consideration will be give to works representative of Montana and its cultures.
  • All poetry forms will be considered.
  • Poet must not be enrolled in an undergraduate degree-seeking program.
  • A poet may not self-nominate him or herself.
  • No award will be given posthumously.
  • Poet must not be a member or staff member of the Montana Arts Council or their immediate family or household.

What is the selection process for the Poet Laureate?

A panel drawn from members of the literary community select three finalists from among the nominations. The three finalists are submitted to the Montana Arts Council board for review and approval. The Poet Laureate of Montana is then chosen by the Governor from among these nominees.

What are the obligations of the Poet Laureate?

The Montana Committee for the Humanities invites the Poet Laureate to join its Speaker's Bureau program.

How will Poet Laureate nominations be evaluated?

The Poet Laureate is chosen on the basis of three criteria:

  • Excellence as evidenced by the submitted poetry samples.
  • Exemplary professionalism as evidenced by an established history of substantial and significant publication in journals and books including at least one book of poems published by a commercial or small press (not a vanity press-see eligibility requirements) and special honors, awards, fellowships, or other recognition.
  • Advancement of poetry in Montana communities as evidenced by an established history of activity in Montana's literary community through readings, publications, public presentations and/or teaching.

Re-nomination of Previously Nominated Poets

Nominations are not carried over from past years. Poets who have been previously nominated will be contacted and invited to expedite their application with new work samples and updated biographical information.

For further information, contact:

Kim Baraby Hurtle
Percent-for-Art Director and Executive Assistant
Montana Arts Council
406-444-6639
email: khurtle@mt.gov

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