Montana Arts Council

An Agency of State Government

Melissa Kwasny and M.L. Smoker

Montana Poet Laureates for 2019-2021

Melissa Kwasny

Melissa Kwasny is the author of six books of poetry, most recently  Where Outside the Body is the Soul Today  (University of Washington Press Pacific Northwest Poetry Series) and  Pictograph (Milkweed Editions), as well as a collection of prose writings,  Earth Recitals: Essays on Image and Vision (Lynx House Press). She is the editor of  Toward the Open Field: Poets on the Art of Poetry 1800–1950 (Wesleyan University Press) and co-editor, with M.L. Smoker, of the anthology  I Go to the Ruined Place: Contemporary Poets in Defense of Global Human Rights (Lost Horse Press). Recently published by Trinity University Press,  Putting on the Dog: The Animal Origins of What We Wear is her first book of investigative nonfiction.

Widely published in journals, including  Willow SpringsThreepenny ReviewPloughsharesAmerican Poetry Review, Gettysburg Review,  Orion,  Bellingham ReviewKenyon Review, and  Boston Review, Kwasny’s poems and essays are also included in the anthologies  The Arcadia Project: North American Postmodern Pastoral (Josh Corey and G.C. Waldrep, eds.),  Montana Women Writers: A Geography of the Heart (Carolyn Patterson, editor),  Poems Across the Big Sky and  New Poets of the American West (both edited by Lowell Jaeger), as well as in  West of 98: Living and Writing the American West (Russell Rowland and Lynn Stegner, eds.)

The recipient of the Poetry Society of America's Cecil Hemley Award and Alice Fay di Castognola Award for a work in progress, the Montana Art Council's Artist's Innovation Award, and residencies at Vermont Studio Center, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Hedgebrook, Ucross, and the Headlands Center for the Arts, Kwasny has taught as visiting writer at both the undergraduate and graduate level, including MFA programs at the University of Wyoming, Eastern Washington University/Inland Pacific Center for Writers, and the University of Montana.

She lives outside of Jefferson City, Montana, in the Elkhorn Mountains.


Poetry Samples:


M.L. Smoker (Mandy Smoker Broaddus)

Mandy Smoker Broaddus (M.L. Smoker) belongs to the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation in north-eastern Montana. 

She is a graduate of Pepperdine University and the University of Montana. She also attended UCLA and the University of Colorado.

Smoker Broaddus currently works for Education Northwest as a Practice Expert in Indian Education.  Her current work focuses on the work of equity and inclusion for Native education in the Pacific Northwest.  She was formerly the Director of Indian Education for the Montana Office of Public Instruction where she saw statewide efforts related to closing the achievement gap and Indian Education for All.  In 2015, she was named the Indian Educator of Year by the National Indian Education Association.  She was also appointed to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education by President Barack Obama.

She has won a regional Emmy award for her work as a producer on the PBS documentary,  Indian Relay.  She has also published one collection of poetry entitled,  Another Attempt at Rescue and coedited an anthology of poems entitled,  I Go to the Ruined Place – Poems in Defense of Global Human Rights.

She was also a school administrator in a rural public school in her home community of Frazer, Montana. She has taught courses at Fort Peck Community College and the University of Montana. 


Poetry Samples:


Hi, I can help answer your questions!