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Indiana Poet Laureate

What does Indiana's Poet Laureate do?

In 2005, Senate Bill No. 433 established a process for selecting a state poet laureate. The Indiana Poet Laureate is responsible for:

  • Making appearances at schools, including the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Indiana School for the Deaf, and libraries
  • Offering advice to the IAC concerning ways to further the art of poetry in Indiana
  • Representing Indiana and the art of poetry to the education community and public

The role of Poet Laureate is an honorary position with an expectation of approximately one hour per month of service to IAC activities. Outside requests of the Poet Laureate's time and talents for events and appearances will be negotiated by the Poet Laureate on a case-by-case basis. Financial compensation for this work is intended to cover the time required to provide a few public events across the state. In addition to general public events, a Poet Laureate may pursue programming that aligns with their vision of poetry's impact on the state. The details for such work will be determined after selection of the Poet Laureate.

The Indiana Arts Commission is in the process of selecting a new Poet Laureate for the 2024-2026 term. Read the guidelines.

Meet Indiana's Poet Laureate Matthew Graham

During his 35 years in southern Indiana, Matthew Graham has been a respected and recognized writer, teacher, and advocate for poetry and the arts. Having recently retired from the University of Southern Indiana (USI), he has taught all levels of creative writing, contemporary literature, and worked with multicultural and international students in freshman composition. Among other community service Graham has worked with diverse writing groups such as high school students and community writing groups.

Matthew Graham is the author of four books of poetry, most recently The Geography of Home (Galileo Press, 2018). His work has earned numerous national, regional and local honors and awards, including a Pushcart Prize, an Academy of American Poets Award, two grants from the Indiana Arts Commission, and the Artist of the Year Award from the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana.

While at USI, Matthew co-founded and co-directed (with Thomas Wilhelmus) The Ropewalk Writers' Retreat, a summer program that brought national and international writers to New Harmony, Indiana for 22 years, and the Ropewalk Visiting Writers Series, which brought prominent fiction and non-fiction writers and poets to the USI campus for free public readings. The list of participating writers includes the former U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo.

Nominations and applications are open for Poet Laureate for the 2024-2026 term. 

The IAC encourages all eligible candidates to self-nominate and for other members of the public to nominate eligible candidates. Poets of all subgenres and styles will be considered.

Eligibility Criteria: 

-18 years of age or older

-Must reside in the state of Indiana for at least three years prior to the appointment and must continue to live in Indiana during the appointed term (January 1, 2024- Dec. 31, 2026).

-Have a robust body of publicly accessible work, including one or more quality collections of poetry or a substantial history of spoken word performances

-Must submit application accurately, with all materials, by the deadline (Sept. 1, 2023)

An ideal candidate for Poet Laureate is a Hoosier who is: 

-An ambassador of poetry who, if appointed, can use the position as a platform to illuminate not only their own work, but the work of other writers in Indiana.

-A community-oriented poet with the desire to spread the joy of poetry, literature, literacy, and storytelling across the state.

-A demonstrated leader that shows a commitment to promoting awareness of poetry through community engagement with an interest in and capability of listening, engaging, and incorporating diverse people and perspectives.

-Someone who can inspire the next generation of writers and readers.

-A self-starter who can organize events, activating Hoosier involvement of the arts, and creating avenues for writers and readers to connect.

Selection Process: 

1.) Open for Nominations and Applications

2.) Chosen Semifinalists will be asked to complete a narrative application, consisting of a few questions that the Poet Laureate Selection Committee would like more information about

3.) Finalist will be asked to complete a Zoom interview with the Poet Laureate Selection Committee

4.) Candidates will be notified of decisions

5.) The IAC will publicly announce the Poet Laureate for the 2024-2026 Term


Nomination Form and Application Form AvailableJuly 31, 2023
Nomination DeadlineAug. 11, 2023 at 5:00PM ET
Application DeadlineSept. 1, 2023 at 5:00PM  ET

Have questions about this program? Please reach out. We're here to help!

Téa Franco

Communications Manager

Indiana Arts Commission

(317) 607-3505

INverse Poetry Archive

INverse celebrates and preserves the diverse range of Indiana poetry for future generations of Indiana writers and readers. It is a collaboration of former Indiana Poet Laureate Adrian Matejka, the Indiana State Library and the Indiana Arts Commission. Residents of Indiana are encouraged to submit poems to the archive annually between February 1 and April 30. Click here for more information about the archive.

Former Poets Laureate

Please note: In 2012 the Indiana Poet Laureate started serving a calendar year, two-year term.  

Joyce Brinkman, July 2002 through June 2008 (interview)

Norbert Krapf, July 2008 through June 2010 (website)

Karen Kovacik, 2012, 2013 (website)

George Kalamaras, 2014, 2015 (website)

Shari Wagner, 2016, 2017 (website)

Adrian Matejka, 2018, 2019 (website)

People, Places, and Poetry

by Joyce Brinkman
Read the blog.

Combining Poetry and Song as Indiana Poet Laureate

by Norbert Krapf
Read the blog.

Poetry in My Life

by Matthew Graham
Read the blog.

In the Land of Poets

by Shari Wagner
Read the blog.

Reflection and Resurgence: Poetry throughout Changing Times

by Karen Kovacik
Read the blog.

Poetry: A Great Breathing Among the Trees

by George Kalamaras
Read the blog.