Utah Poet Laureate

The Utah Poet Laureate is a Governor-appointed advocate for literature and the arts throughout the state who presents in communities, schools, libraries, and public events. The position was established in 1997. Above photo by Victoria Waltz.

Photo of Paisley Rekdal

Utah Poet Laureate Paisley Rekdal

Paisley Rekdal is the author of a book of essays, The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee,  a hybrid-genre photo-text memoir entitled Intimate, and four books of poetry: A Crash of RhinosSix Girls Without PantsThe Invention of the Kaleidoscope and Animal Eye, which was a finalist for the 2013 Kingsley Tufts Prize, the Balcones Prize and winner of the UNT Rilke Prize. Her newest books are Imaginary Vessels and a book-length essay, The Broken Country: On Trauma, a Crime, and the Continuing Legacy of Vietnam. Her work has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Fellowship, a Civitella Ranieri Residency, an NEA Fellowship, Pushcart Prizes, the 2016 AWP Nonfiction Prize, and various state arts council awards. Her poems and essays have appeared in or are forthcoming from The New York Times Magazine, American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, Poetry, The New Republic, Tin House, the Best American Poetry series, and on National Public Radio, among others. She teaches at the University of Utah, where she is also the creator and editor of the community web project Mapping Salt Lake City. Above photo of Paisley Rekdal by Emily London. 

Utah Poetry Festival

Save the date for the second Utah Poetry Festival on Saturday, April 18, 2020 on the University of Utah campus. The Utah Poetry Festival will feature readings by poets from around the state, K-12 creative writing pedagogy roundtables, and workshops on running Poetry Out Loud programs and creating a performance poetry/slam curriculum. Teacher certification will be given for those attending the conference. The festival will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Lunch and snacks will be provided. For interested K-12 teachers who live in south or central Utah, a number of stipends will be provided to help cover the price of hotels or travel.

For more information about the travel stipends or the conference program, please contact Paisley Rekdal at paisley.rekdal@utah.edu.  To register for the conference, please contact Bobby Kennedy at u0888143@utah.eduUpdated information on the festival will be sent via email and posted on the Facebook events page. 

Beehive Poetry Month

Funding is available to help Utah poets make April 2020 Beehive Poetry Month, during which we fill up as many days of the month as we can with poetry-related events around the state. Poets engaging their communities in creative, surprising, or interdisciplinary activities that focus on bringing poetry to a wide audience are encouraged to apply for a one-time mini-grant to bring their project to light. The grants will be funded by the Utah Division of Arts & Museums, Utah Humanities, and the Academy of American Poets Poet Laureate Fellowship. Learn more here. 

Book the Poet Laureate

To request a reading or workshop by the Poet Laureate, please fill out the Utah Poet Laureate Appearance Request Form. Requests are honored based on the nature of the request and the availability of the Poet Laureate.

After the Poet Laureate has visited your school or organization, please fill out this brief Utah Poet Laureate Visit Report Form.

Paisley Rekdal’s Presentation at 2018 Mountain West Arts Conference

Comments  |  Link to poem, “Driving to Santa Fe”

Past Utah Poets Laureate

David Lee, St. George
Appointed by Gov. Michael Leavitt
January 1997 to January 2003

Kenneth W. Brewer, Logan
Appointed by Gov. Michael Leavitt
January 2003 to March 2006

Katharine Coles, Salt Lake City
Appointed by Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr.
March 2006 to April 2012

Lance Larsen, Springville
Appointed by Gov. Gary R. Herbert
April 2012 to April 2017


Alyssa Hickman Grove
Communications/Marketing and Literary Arts Manager