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Missouri Poet Laureate

Missouri's Poet Laureate:  William Trowbridge

william trowbridge, mo poet laureate 2012-13green motorcycleship of fool
2012-2013 Missouri Poet Laureate, William Trowbridge

To schedule an appearance by the Poet Laureate, contact him directly at willtrow@comcast.net.

On April 13, 2012, Governor Jay Nixon announced the appointment of William Trowbridge of Lee's Summit as Missouri's third Poet Laureate. Trowbridge is a distinguished university professor emeritus at Northwest Missouri State University, and the author of more than 340 published or forthcoming poems. During his term, he is presenting and lecturing on poetry to school, community and civic groups throughout the state. 


"Professor Trowbridge is one of the country's outstanding poets, and we are honored to have him as Missouri's poet laureate," Gov. Nixon said. "With a number of outstanding candidates from our state, the decision is never easy. I appreciate the work of the Missouri Center for the Book and of the advisory committee in making its recommendation to me."

Professor Trowbridge has published eight collections of poems, including Ship of Fool in 2011, and his work has been reprinted in more than 30 anthologies and textbooks. He was co-editor of The Laurel Review from 1986 to 2000, and his poetry has earned several honors and awards.

Trowbridge obtained his bachelor's degree in philosophy and his master's degree in English from the University of Missouri. He earned his doctorate in English from Vanderbilt University. Trowbridge was on the faculty of Northwest Missouri State University from 1971 to 1998.

William Trowbridge succeeds David Clewell of Webster Groves, a professor of English at Webster University in St. Louis. Walter Bargen of Ashland was Missouri's first poet laureate after Governor Matt Blunt created the program by executive order in 2007. 

An advisory committee, including three representatives of the Missouri Center for the Book and two members appointed by the Governor, was charged with reviewing and evaluating applications, and recommending candidates for appointment to the Governor. The members of the advisory committee were:

  • Dr. James Baumlin, a Professor of English at Missouri State University, who has published numerous books, essays and reviews
  • Dr. Adam Davis, professor in the Classical and Modern Languages Department at Truman State University
  • Gabriel Fried, the author of two poetry collections and the poetry editor at Persea Books, who teaches in the graduate creative writing program at the University of Missouri
  • Kris Kleindienst, a published author and columnist, and the owner of Left Bank Books, an independent bookstore with two locations in St. Louis
  • Nola Ruth, the chair of the Missouri Arts Council, who served for 17 years as the director of the Missouri Associate of Community Arts Agencies

kongpacking house cantataflickerso paradise

The biography on the poet’s website
William Trowbridge holds a B.A. in Philosophy and an M. A. in English from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a Ph.D. in English from Vanderbilt University.

His poetry publications include five full collections: Ship of Fool (Red Hen Press, 2011), The Complete Book of Kong (Southeast Missouri State University Press, 2003), Flickers, O Paradise, and Enter Dark Stranger (University of Arkansas Press, 2000, 1995, 1989), and three chapbooks, The Packing House Cantata (Camber Press, 2006), The Four Seasons (Red Dragonfly Press, 2001) and The Book of Kong (Iowa State University Press, l986).

His poems have appeared in more than 30 anthologies and textbooks, as well as in such periodicals as Poetry, The Gettysburg Review, Crazyhorse, The Georgia Review, Boulevard, The Southern Review, Columbia, Colorado Review, The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Epoch, and New Letters. He has given readings and workshops at schools, colleges, bookstores, and literary conferences throughout the United States. His awards include an Academy of American Poets Prize, a Pushcart Prize, a Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference scholarship, a Camber Press Poetry Chapbook Award, and fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Ragdale, Yaddo, and The Anderson Center.

He is a Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at Northwest Missouri State University, where he was an editor of The Laurel Review/GreenTower Press from 1986 to 2004. Now living in Lee’s Summit, MO, he teaches in the University of Nebraska low-residency MFA in writing program.

He is married to Sue, and they have three children: Jennifer, Sean, and Randy; and three grandchildren: Ben, Will, and Alice.

His interests are reading, travel, motorcycling, wine tasting, fine dining, and "trying to keep the damn rabbits out of the hibiscus."

•  Read poems by Prof. Trowbridge and see videos of him reading his poetry on his website.

•  Prof. Trowbridge talks about stand-up comedy, King Kong's search for love, getting bitten by the poetry bug, the hassles and joys of teaching and more in an in-depth interview with Pif Magazine.

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