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

How to Nominate for Missouri’s next Poet Laureate

Public nominations are open through March 18

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.

Who may apply

We encourage eligible candidates to self-nominate, and other members of the public to nominate eligible candidates. The Missouri Arts Council complies with all local, state, and federal laws and regulations concerning civil and human rights. The Missouri Arts Council programs, grants, and employment practices are free of discrimination based on race, gender, color, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity, military status, or age.

All Missouri Poet Laureate nominees must:

  • be at least 25 years of age October 1, 2019
  • have been a Missouri resident prior to the nomination deadline
  • remain a Missouri resident throughout the two-year term
  • be able and available to reach statewide audiences through travel or other means
  • provide evidence of achievement in the art of poetry, including publicly accessible work (books, literary magazines, and/or digital media)
  • have received recognition or awards for contributions to poetry
  • demonstrate ability to promote awareness or enjoyment of poetry
  • agree to the conditions and terms of appointment

Note: Unless a poet is self-nominating, the person making the nomination is not required to be a Missouri resident.

How to apply

All nominations, including self-nominations, should be submitted via the online application form by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 18, 2019.

These five items are required as part of each nomination:

  • A completed nomination form
  • A résumé or curriculum vitae, not to exceed four (4) pages
  • Work samples, formatted to fit 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper. Each work sample should indicate where the poem has been published or performed and if it has received any awards for merit. The total number of pages of the work samples combined with the résumé or curriculum vitae are not to exceed fourteen (14 pages).
  • A narrative describing what the nominee would accomplish during the two years as Missouri Poet Laureate, not to exceed two (2) pages
  • Supplementary materials, including excerpts from published book reviews, judges’ comments, not to exceed two (2) pages (note: letters of recommendation will not be considered)

Selection Process

The Missouri Poet Laureate Committee will be composed of people throughout Missouri who have the experience to review a poet laureate. The committee will review submitted nominations and select at least three (3) semi-finalists, then make recommendations to the Governor of Missouri. The Governor will select the Missouri Poet Laureate. The Missouri Poet Laureate 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 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 open.

March 18
Deadline for nominations.

April 30
Missouri Poet Laureate Committee selects finalists and submits three recommendations to the Governor.

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

July 1
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.