Texas Poet Laureate   

According to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission:

Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 82, 43rd Legislature, Regular Session (1933) authorized appointment of a committee by the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the House to designate an outstanding and recognized poet, who is also a citizen of the state of Texas, as poet laureate.

Beginning in 1932 --a year before the post was authorized-- a Texan served in the post continuously until 1981. Since then the post has been vacant all but a handful of years. And the last let the post in 1994.

Elected in 1994 and re-elected in 1998, the current Governor, George W. Bush, has not nominated a Texas Poetry Laureate during his tenure in the Governor's office.


Texas is a great state with a long tradition of poets, a vibrant poetry community and many wonderful poets. Texas needs a Texas Poet Laureate.

The long tradition of poets in Texas need an advocate so they're not forgotten. I doubt many people know anything of the long tradition of poets in Texas and the role, often integral role, they've played in the community. For instance, the Dallas Morning News has included poetry since it's earliest days. The writings on poets can be seen on monuments and memorials around the state. And today, they read and perform in libraries, schools, stores, events and nightspots.

The current Texas poetry scene is an active and vibrant one, with many phenomenal poets. Names like Naomi Shihab Nye, Robert Trammel and Frederick Turner come to mind immediately. Events like the Austin International Poetry Festival, Arts and Letters Live and last year's National Poetry Slam bring these voices together many times a year. And publications like Borderlands the Best of Texas Anthology series, Kentecloth and our own the Word: the monthly guide to the Arts in Dallas take theses voices out to the world.

It's an incredibly active group. In any given metropolitan area in Texas, on any night of the week, you're likely to be able go to at least one reading. And that community needs a voice that speaks for it to Texans.

Beyond the state's boundaries, there's a perception that Texans are many things. Say Texas and the world thinks J.R., the Cowboys, the Alamo, Oil and Ross Perot. But, there's more to the state than that. Poetry is part of that tradition and the rest of the world should know more about that.

What You Can Do

Many times moving government is a sysiphian task. Between the competition for funds, entrenched interests and political agendas, moving government can be difficult at best. In this case, it's a much simpler task. The position has existed since 1933 --for over half of Texas' history. The position does not carry a stipend. It does require the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the House to assemble a committee to designate an "outstanding and recognized poet" to fill the roll.

Since the post is vacant, it'll require you to push our elected officials. Even though he doesn't directly cause the position to be filled, the Governor is the state's top elected official, so start by contacting him. If you've got the time, contact the Lieutenant Governor, the Speaker of the House and your Senator and Representative. We've got email addresses, phone numbers and addresses listed below. If you're feeling energetic, send us an email letting us know you support this, what city you live in, and who've you've contacted in Austin. We'll keep track and let Austin know how many people have contacted us.

Do you run a website or a print publication? Let us know. The Word: the monthly guide to the arts in Dallas will be publishing an editorial on this issue. And it's available for republication. We'll link that article, along with sample emails over the next few weeks.

Do you know someone who would make a good Poet Laureate? Let us know. We plan on presenting the list of nominees to the Governor and other elected officials.


The Offical Campaign Webpage: http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/lobby/ref/poets.htm

Governor George W. Bush can be reached at http://www.governor.state.tx.us/email.html. He can also be written: Office of the Governor; P.O. Box 12428; Austin, TX 78711-2428. The Governor's office can be phoned at 512-463-2000 or fax at 512-463-1849.

Speaker of the House James E. "Pete" Laney can be reached by at http://www.house.state.tx.us/speaker/feedback.htm. He receives mail at Room 2W.13, Capitol Building; Austin, TX 78701. His capital office number is (512) 463-1000

Lieutenant Governor Rick Perry receives mail at: State Capitol; P.O. Box 12068; Austin Tx., 78711-2068. His office can be reached at (800) 441-0373 or TDD (512) 475-3758.

Your State Senator: http://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/Senate/Members.htm

Your State Representative: http://www.house.state.tx.us/house/member.htm

Contact Us: tx_poet_laureate@datawranglers.com
719 Woodlawn Avenue   Dallas, TX   75208