MAC Calls for Mississippi Poet Laureate Nominations

JACKSON, MISS. – August 12, 2019 – Led by the Mississippi Arts Commission, the Mississippi Poet Laureate Selection Panel is now accepting nominations for the state’s next Poet Laureate, who will succeed Beth Ann Fennelly when her term expires in 2020. The Poet Laureate serves as the official state poet, creating and reading appropriate poetry upon state occasions and state agency activities and represents the rich cultural heritage of Mississippi.

Mississippi named Maude Willard Leet Prenshaw as its first Poet Laureate in 1963, who served a lifetime term. In 2011, the Governor’s Office, in partnership with MAC and the state’s other cultural agencies, instituted a four-year term for the state’s Poet Laureate, starting with Natasha Trethewey, who served from 2012 to 2016. The Mississippi Poet Laureate Selection Panel seeks and reviews laureate nominations, interviews finalists and provides the Governor with a list of qualified nominees, from which the Governor selects and appoints the state’s next Poet Laureate.

The Mississippi Poet Laureate is an honorary position. Among other qualifications, the selected individual must be either born in Mississippi or living in the state at the time of nomination, possess a body of quality works, have work widely published in books, anthologies, literary journals or magazines by recognized, reputable publishers and be available to travel and actively serve in the state. The deadline to submit a nomination is April 1, 2020.

To learn more about Mississippi’s Poet Laureate, position eligibility and expectations as well as the nomination process, visit Please contact Kristen Brandt, chair of the Poet Laureate Selection Panel at or (601) 359-6030 with questions about the nomination process.

Contact:  Kristen Brandt | Special Initiatives Director | | (601) 359-6030

Photo credit of typewriter image: Tom Joynt