In 1933, the Texas Legislature created the post of Texas Poet Laureate. The post was filled continuously until 1981. Since then the post has been vacant all but a handful of years. The last Poet Laureate left the post in 1994. This project is an effort to convince Austin that the post is important and that Texans want someone in the post.

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August 21, 2000:

WHEREAS, Poetry and works of art can immortalize for all time
the spirit of the age and the cultural heritage by which they were
inspired; and

WHEREAS, Recognizing outstanding poets in this state by
bestowing on them titles of honor is a worthy tribute and serves as
an encouragement to other talented poets...

That was the beginning of the resolution the Texas Legislature passed last year to designate Poets Laureate for the 2000 and 2001. Today, a committee of the Texas legislature announced both Poets Laureate. James Hoggard of Wichita Falls serves an abbreviated term for 2000. Walt McDonald of Lubbock will serve as Poet Laureate from November 1, 2000 through October 31 of next year.

The committee --formed by Lt Governor Rick Perry and Speaker of the House Pete Laney-- was chaired by Senator Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) and Representative Delwin Jones (R-Lubbock). The members of the committee from the State Senate were Tom Haywood (R-Wichita Falls) and Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo). Members from the House included Joe Deshotel (D-Beaumont) and Bob Hunter (R-Abilene).

James Hoggard is a Professor of English at Midwestern State University (Wichita Falls). He holds a Bachelors from SMU (1963) and a Masters from the University of Kansas (1965).

Walt McDonald is a Professor of English at Texas Tech. He holds two degrees from the same school and a PhD from Iowa State University.

artsDFW will have an article on the new State Poets Laureate in their next issue. That's supposed to hit the web and the street next week. We'll post additional information on both Poets Laureate here soon.

Now, everyone who's been writing letters and beating on doors, pat yourselves on the back. You've earned it. Then start working on educating your legislators about Poetry in Texas. Another pair of Poets Laureate have to be named next year...

January 8, 1999: We're up to 109 signuatures on the print campaign for about 120 total, so far. If you haven't signed either petition, don't forget we've got an electronic petition. We've made other progress in the background and we'll be doing a larger update in the next week.

December 11, 1999: I received a letter from the Governor's office responding to the my correspondence on the need for a Texas Poet Laureate. It's been referred to John Paul Batiste, Executive Director for the Texas Commission on the Arts. If you'd like to contact him, write: POB 13406, Austin TX 78711-3406 or phone (512) 463-5535. If you'd like to read the letter, click on the small version of it to the right.

December 9, 1999: You can now order T-Shirts, coffee mugs and mouse pads with the message --Texas Poetry NOW!-- over at The Data Wranglers Store at Cafe Press. Depending on the item either $3 or $4 will go towards the campaign. Once we get a new poet laureate, any remaining funds will go towards a endowment to provide stipends for our Poets Laureate.

We're getting a slow stream of signatures in. Over the next week, we're going to change things so the current electronic signature count (e.g. all the signatures that come in via the form) are current to the minute.

November 20, 1999: The meeting with the State Representative went well. Between information from that meeting, some provided by poets, and more gathered in research, we're developing a game plan. Our signature count has passed 80 and we'll be activating the mailing list after Thanksgiving

November 14, 1999: The resources section continues to grow. From there you can now get to a page of banner ads and a list of past Texas Poets Laureate we've created based on the list maintained in Austin. We've added links for many of the Poets Laureate.

The resources page also includes a link to the current State Poets Laureate. 34 states have a Poet Laureate currently serving. It's an interesting list of poets, including poets such as Gwendolyn Brooks (Illinois) and Sharon Olds (New York).

The People Say section is now up with nominations and the current petition signature count.

Speaking of nominations. If you've got one or you want to sign the petition, you can now do so in the Join section.

November 13, 1999: Correction. The signature count is at 68 and we've added a new signature collector, to bring the total to five people collecting signatures for the effort.

The site has been reorganized. We'll be adding some additional information this weekend.

November 12, 1999: We're trying to schedule meetings with one of the State Representatives for the Dallas area. The signature count is at 46. We'll post a major site update sometime this weekend.

November 10, 1999: We need to thank for our first bit of publicity in the regular press. You can find the write-up in their poetry section.

November 6, 1999: We spent the day at the Texas Book Festival. Over the course of the day 45 signatures were collected. The Writer's Garret (Dallas), William Bryan Massey III (Fort Worth) and Thom the World Poet (Austin) all agreed to collect more signatures.

November 4, 1999: We're live and our campaign has begun in ernest. There's an article over at on the campaign.


We'll be Gathering Signatures at...

If you've got an event where you'll gather signatures for the effort, let us know and we'll list it here.

Saturday 13 November: the Oak Cliff Circle of Poets at Suenos Sobrosos (Dallas).

Saturday 5 November: Texas Book Festival (Austin)