The current state poet laureate is Peggy Vining. There's a bio of Vining here. Eighty-year-old Vining is working on her first collection of poetry, Tethered to the Moment, according to the blog Writing Without Paper.
Which brings me to an interesting point.
Some state poets laureate are Pulitzer Prize winners, respected literary critics, professors of English. Others are known only within their state's literary community.
The Encyclopedia of Arkansas website says, "In Arkansas, as elsewhere, the title of poet laureate is generally awarded on grounds not restricted to fame or literary eminence. None of the best-known or most distinguished Arkansas poets has received the title.
"The term 'laureate' refers to the ancient custom of crowning a person with a wreath made from leaves of the laurel tree. In antiquity, military heroes, athletic champions, and winners in singing, music, and poetry contests typically received this honor.
"In modern times, monarchs, governing bodies, or other organizations have named poets laureate, often in recognition of a significant talent but sometimes for political or other reasons."
What do you think? Is it better to have a poet laureate who is nationally known with several books and awards to her name, or is a locally active author -- maybe one whose poetry reflects the region -- what you'd prefer? I'd love to hear comments on this!
Here is the beginning of Vining's long poem about the history and landscape of her home state.
Arkansas, The Natural State