Wisconsin Academy of Sciences Arts & Letters has announced that Kimberly Blaeser of Burlington has been named Wisconsin Poet Laureate for 2015-2016. Here’s the WASAL news release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 7, 2015
Contact: William Stobb, chair, Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission
Jason A. Smith, communications director, Wisconsin Academy
Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission
MADISON—The Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission has selected Kimberly Blaeser of Burlington, Wisconsin, as the Wisconsin Poet Laureate for 2015–2016. The Commission praised Blaeser’s ability to reach a broad audience through her diverse and captivating works: poems exploring Native culture and family; poems of place and the environment; poems of witness; poems centered in the female experience, humor, and irony; even “picto-poems” that combine artwork with verse.
Speaking about her recent selection as Wisconsin Poet Laureate, Blaeser calls it “a wonderful honor and an opportunity [to] celebrate the state’s rich resources in poetry and put poetry to work in Wisconsin.”
Of Anishinaabe ancestry and a native of White Earth Reservation in northwestern Minnesota, Blaeser lives with her family in rural Lyons Township, near Burlington, Wisconsin. Blaeser works as Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, where she teaches Creative Writing, Native American Literature, and American Nature Writing. When she isn’t busy writing, teaching, transporting her daughter to sporting events, or tracking her son’s college career, Blaeser finds time for wilderness expeditions and wildlife and nature photography. Her current creative project features “picto-poems” that bring together her poetry and photography to explore intersecting ideas about nature, Native place, and spiritual sustenance.
Blaeser is the author of three acclaimed poetry collections—Apprenticed to Justice (2007), Absentee Indians and Other Poems (2002), andTrailing You (1994)—that have earned national as well as international recognition. Her poems have been translated into several languages, including Spanish, Norwegian, Indonesian, and Anishinaabemowin. Blaeser has performed her poetry at over two hundred different venues in a dozen different countries, including performances at the Borobudur Temple in Indonesia and in a Fire Ceremony at the Borderlands Museum Grounds in arctic Norway.
Blaeser is active in service to literature, the arts, and social justice. Most recently, she initiated the Milwaukee Native American Literary Cooperative which helped to bring 75 Native American writers to Milwaukee for the 20th Anniversary Returning the Gift Festival of Native Writers and Storytellers in 2012. Blaeser currently serves on the editorial board for the American Indian Lives Series of the University of Nebraska Press, and for the Native American Series of Michigan State University Press. In the past, she has served on the advisory board for the Sequoyah Research Center and Native American Press Archives and on the Poetry Fellowship Panel for the National Endowment of the Arts, and has been a member of the Native American Alumni Board for the University of Notre Dame.
Blaeser will take over for Wisconsin Poet Laureate Max Garland, who has served the state admirably since January 2013. Blaeser will receive funding, marketing and other support from the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission under the active stewardship of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters. The Commission consists of eleven poets and lovers of poetry from across the state, including member organization representatives from the Council for Wisconsin Writers, Wisconsin Arts Board, Wisconsin Center for the Book, Wisconsin Humanities Council, Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, and Wisconsin Academy. Each year as Wisconsin Poet Laureate, Blaeser will receive a $2,000 stipend and week-long residency at Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point, in addition to a commemorative broadside, project grant funding from the Wisconsin Arts Board, and other recognition opportunities.
Blaeser has plans for a monthly radio program where she will feature Wisconsin poets and poetry events already in the works, and she would like to draw upon her past experience in editing anthologies to bring the poetry of Wisconsin writers to press for Wisconsin readers. Blaser would also like to bring poetry into more public spaces and events—to unusual places like the Horicon Bird Festival, to baseball games, flower shows, and sushi bars. Indeed, Blaeser is brimming with ideas. She notes that at “some point in the history of this country, poetry got a bad rap. Those who love poetry, but especially those who read or pen poetry in private, need permission and encouragement to be the shining poetry nerds they may long to be!”
For more information on Kimberly Blaeser, the new Wisconsin Poet Laureate, or to learn more about program sponsors the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission and Wisconsin Academy, please visit www.wisconsinpoetlaureate.org.
Congratulations to Kimberly from the Council for Wisconsin Writers http://www.wiswriters.org.