• Karen Craigo by a lake in winter, her photo flanked by the front covers of her two books

Karen Craigo of Springfield, Missouri Poet Laureate 2019-2021

Missouri Poet Laureate, 2019-2021

Missouri’s fifth Poet Laureate is Springfield poet and journalist Karen Craigo. She is serving a two-year term through June 30, 2021.

The Missouri Poet Laureate enriches Missourians’ lives throughout the state by fostering the reading and writing of poetry, through public appearances, readings, workshops, and digital and social media. “As Poet Laureate,” Ms. Craigo says, “I have made it my mission to bring out the poetry of everyday life in our beautiful state.”

“Craigo’s poems are disarmingly witty and wise,” says Tom Noyes, professor of English and creative writing at Penn State Behrend in Erie, Pennsylvania. “Even her most provocative work is warm and inviting.”

“There’s a wonderful intimacy to her poems, a melding of tenderness and humor that hints at something deeper,” says poet Michael Meyerhofer, editor of Atticus Review, which has featured many of Ms. Craigo’s works. “Maybe that’s why Craigo has so firmly established herself as one of the most vital and generous poetic voices in America.”

Karen Craigo has published two full-length collections of her works via Sundress Publications, Passing Through Humansville (2018) and No More Milk (2016). She is also the author of three chapbooks, the mini-collections Escaped Housewife Tries Hard to Blend In (Hermeneutic Chaos Press, 2017), Stone For an Eye (Kent State University Press, 2014), and Someone Could Build Something Here (Winged City Press, 2013). Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including Atticus Review, Poetry, Indiana Review, Prairie Schooner, Puerto del Sol, and The MacGuffin.

Ms. Craigo explores writing, publishing, and creativity on her blog, Better View of the Moon.

Ms. Craigo is the poetry series editor for the Missouri State University-based Moon City Press and the nonfiction editor for the literary journal Mid-American Review. As a journalist, she is editor and general manager of The Marshfield Mail, a 130-year-old weekly newspaper based in the Webster County seat. She also works on occasion as an instructor of writing and a freelance literary editor.

With her husband, Michael Czyzniejewski, Ms. Craigo is the mother of two sons, Ernie and Keats. “Although I’m usually writing or chasing down a story,” she says, “in my spare time I love to travel, hike, and curl up with a good mystery novel.”

Karen at a microphone engaged in speaking poetry

Karen Craigo at a poetry reading

Meet Karen Craigo online

Interview with Poetry Matters
“I originally wrote poems because I had a knack for language and loved the way it felt to use words in a just-right way….These days I recognize a spiritual element in the act, too. Sometimes you write a poem and a poem writes back. Things show up you didn’t plan; sometimes you get insights that astonish you. Poetry’s a little like prayer for me, but unlike my experience with conventional prayer, poetry reliably answers, in real words—from time to time, anyway.”

Interview with Literary Mama
Passing Through Humansville gets its name from a small Missouri town near me. Strangely, the town is named after a person with the unlikely name of ‘Human,’ but when I was driving by it on the highway, I was very taken with the idea of life as a process of passing through the state of being human. The poems in that book explore many of the same themes as my first book—motherhood, money—but they also explore the thin scrim between this world and another.”

Interview with Tethered by Letters
“Beginning writers should educate themselves in any way they can. Reading books is a no-brainer, but I say get out of the house and see real, live writers. Sneak into receptions. See what your favorite poet looks like after one too many glasses of some iffy Shiraz.”

Karen Craigo with husband and two sons in the woods by their tent

The Craigo-Czyzniejewski family: Ernie, Michael, Keats, Karen

Experience Karen Craigo’s poetry

Karen Craigo muses on writing, publishing, and creativity at her blog, Better View of the Moon.

Missouri’s Poet Laureate program

The Missouri Arts Council facilitates the Missouri Poet Laureate program on behalf of the Office of the Governor. The program was established in 2008.

Governor Michael L. Parson chose Karen Craigo from among public nominations contributed in spring 2019 and vetted by the Missouri Poet Laureate Selection Committee. The five-member committee was composed of Missouri Arts Council board member Pat Ann Sharp of Kennett and the four previous Poet Laureates: Aliki Barnstone (2016-2019), William Trowbridge (2012-16), David Clewell (2010-12), and Walter Bargen (2008-10).

Nominations for Missouri’s sixth Poet Laureate closed on March 22. The next stage is for the Missouri Poet Laureate Selection Committee to review the submitted nominations. The committee again consists of all Missouri’s Poets Laureates from the program’s beginning except for David Clewell, who died on February 15, 2020.

The committee will select finalists and make recommendations to Governor Michael L. Parson. The Governor selects the Missouri Poet Laureate. The poet is notified when the Governor’s decision has been made. The Governor or their designee, along with the Missouri Arts Council, announces the Missouri Poet Laureate. The new Laureate will be announced on July 1, and will serve a two-year term through June 30, 2023.

Webster County Judge David Replogle signs Karen Craigo's oath of office for Missouri Poet Laureate

Webster County Judge David Replogle signing Karen Craigo’s oath of office as Poet Laureate of the State of Missouri