Ozarks Tonight: Meet Missouri’s Poet Laureate

Ozarks Tonight

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Did you know that Missouri has an official poet? Well, we do and she lives in Springfield.

Karen Craigo was appointed the fifth Missouri Poet Laureate by Governor Mike Parson for 2019 to 2021.

“It’s amazing, ” she said of the appointment. “I can’t even begin to tell you how good it feels to have that sort of stamp of approval from the Governor.”

She is the editor and general manager of the Marshfield Mail in Webster County. Also, a published author with her works “Passing through Humansville” and “No More Milk.” She also serves as a poetry series editor for the Moon City Press and non-fiction editor for the Mid-American Review. She also runs a blog – A Better View of the Moon.

The post of Missouri Poet Laureate was first established by Former Governor Matt Blunt in 2008.

Craigo nominated herself to the position and sent off poems and descriptions of a project she’d like to do. She said she was a little surprised she won, because she is not originally from Missouri, but says she believes her project is what won her the title. Her goal is to collect poems from every county in Missouri.

“I am going to try to find a poem from all 114 counties and St. Louis,” she said. “There are so many great poets in Springfield, so that’s no problem. But there are some very remote counties and I don’t really know what I will find there. But I will find them. And if I can’t find them I will make them. I’ll go there and I will hold workshops. But we are going to get a poem for every county.”

She said it’s part of her “job” as Poet Laureate to promote and highlight poetry all across the state. Which is not really a job for someone whose life poetry plays a big role in.

“Poetry for me is meaning-making … and connective … and spiritual activity,” she said. “For me, it’s like I sort of go into my place and it’s worship. It’s deep. It’s not an academic endeavor. It’s a connection to the deepest thing you can be connected to. And there are people who probably need poetry. They need to make sense of their lives. They need to hear it. It’s good for people, good for their spirits.”

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