Missouri’s Poets Laureate | Aliki Barnstone, 2016-present | William Trowbridge, 2012-16 | David Clewell, 2010-12 | Walter Bargen, 2008-10

Missouri Poet Laureate

Aliki Barnstone has held the post since 2016; new Laureate will be announced in July

In 2008, Governor Matt Blunt established the post of Missouri Poet Laureate. The Missouri Poet Laureate has the opportunity to foster the art of poetry, encourage literacy and learning, and encourage the reading and writing of poetry across the state. The Missouri Poet Laureate enriches the lives of residents by sharing and promoting poetry through public appearances, readings, workshops, and digital and social media.

The Missouri Poet Laureate will create a new work about the state of Missouri during their term. Upon invitation, the Missouri Poet Laureate will provide public readings/events in urban and rural settings across the state that educate students, community members, and business, state, and civic leaders about the value and importance of poetry and creative expression.

The Missouri Poet Laureate will serve a two-year term.

Selection process

Missouri’s next Poet Laureate will emerge from public nominations that were open through March 18. Poets were required to be least age 25 year as of October 1 this year, have been a Missouri resident prior to the nomination deadline, remain a Missouri resident throughout the two-year term, be able to reach statewide audiences, and provide evidence of their poetic achievements.

The next stage is for the Missouri Poet Laureate Committee to review the submitted nominations and select at least three semi-finalists, then make recommendations to the Governor of Missouri. The Governor will select the Missouri Poet Laureate. The poet will be notified when the Governor’s decision has been made. The Governor or his designee, along with the Missouri Arts Council, will announce the Missouri Poet Laureate.

The Missouri Poet Laureate Committee is composed of five members. Four are the state’s current and past Poets Laureate: Aliki Barnstone (2016-present), William Trowbridge (2012-16), David Clewell (2010-12), and Walter Bargen (2008-10). The fifth member is Missouri Arts Council and Trust board member Patt Ann Sharp, who has been active in education for more than 50 years, including as a high-school English teacher and as an instructor at her alma mater, Southeast Missouri State University.

The Missouri Poet Laureate program is facilitated by the Missouri Arts Council on behalf of the Office of the Governor. Although recommendations are made for the Missouri Poet Laureate by the Missouri Poet Laureate Selection Committee, the selection authority rests solely with the Governor.


The Missouri Arts Council will support the Missouri Poet Laureate related to events, activities, and performances during their term. The Poet Laureate will work with Missouri Arts Council staff on scheduling, invoicing, and other details required to complete their term.

The Missouri Arts Council will award the Missouri Poet Laureate an honorarium of $2,500 each year to acknowledge and recognize their time and talent. An additional stipend of $2,500 each year will be awarded to defray the cost of eligible travel expenses to public engagements in which the Missouri Poet Laureate is involved, and other expectations of the position.

The Missouri Poet Laureate is expected to:

  • contribute to the awareness of poetry throughout the state
  • provide public readings/events in a variety of public locations throughout Missouri
  • participate in statewide literary events and educational programs
  • promote poetry and the Missouri Poet Laureate position
  • provide a written report of activities to the Missouri Arts Council
  • participate in the Missouri Arts Council’s statewide events upon request, such as Poetry Out Loud, etc.
  • create a new work about the state of Missouri during the two-year term


February 2019
Nominations opened.

March 18
Nominations closed.

April 30
Missouri Poet Laureate Committee submitted three recommendations for finalists to the Governor.

The Governor selects the Missouri Poet Laureate. The Poet Laureate is notified.

Fall 2019
The Missouri Poet Laureate is publicly announced.

January 2021
The search for the next Poet Laureate begins.

June 20, 2021
The 2019-21 Poet Laureate’s term ends.