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 Jason A. Smith, Wisconsin Academy communications director
Ronnie Hess, Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission chair

Wisconsin Academy Announces the New Wisconsin Poet Laureate for 2017–2018

MADISON—The Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission has selected Karla Huston of Appleton, Wisconsin, as the Wisconsin Poet Laureate for 2017–2018. The commission praised Huston for her longstanding devotion to poetry, and a large body of work acclaimed for its elegance, imagination, humor, and scope, ranging from Greek myths to Hollywood stars.
“Karla Huston has that rare ability to tackle just about any issue—large or small—and plumb its meaning for us, telling us why we should care,” says Ronnie Hess, the incoming chair of the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission. “Her words are lustrous and luminous, fairly gliding off the page while also carrying a powerful, unforgettable punch.”
Speaking about her selection as Wisconsin Poet Laureate, Huston says, “[it’s] a tremendous honor to bring my love of poetry to the residents of the state. I am looking forward to getting out there, to meeting people and to implementing my Memory Café plan.” Beyond giving readings at festivals, conferences and other events, Huston plans to nurture the growth of poetry-reading and poetry-writing among Wisconsin’s elderly and memory-impaired, as part of the Memory Café movement, which is associated with the Alzheimer’s & Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin.

Huston will receive funding, marketing and other support from the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission under the active stewardship of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters. The Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission consists of poets and lovers of poetry from across the state, including member organization representatives from the Wisconsin Arts Board, Wisconsin Center for the Book, Wisconsin Humanities Council, Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, Council for Wisconsin Writers, and Wisconsin Academy. Each year as Wisconsin Poet Laureate, Huston will receive a $2,500 stipend and week-long residency at Shake Rag Alley School for Arts and Crafts in Mineral Point, in addition to a commemorative broadside and other recognition opportunities. 
Huston fills the position vacated by Kimberly Blaeser, the sixth Wisconsin Poet Laureate. During her two-year term, Blaeser traveled the state extensively, visiting scores of schools, libraries, bookstores, art galleries, community groups and organizations, as well as more formal festivals and conferences. She also initiated a poetry recitation project which literally put poetry on Wisconsin’s map—allowing individuals and groups to upload videos of readings to an online map of the state. Of Anishinaabe ancestry and a native of White Earth Reservation in northwestern Minnesota, Blaeser is Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, and lives in rural Lyons Township. For more on the Blaeser's recitation map project and future initiatives by incoming Wisconsin Poet Laureate Karla Huston, visit
Members of the media can download high resolution images of Karla Huston, additional biographical materials, and a sample poem here. Please include proper acknowledgement for the poem and credit the photos as: Photo by Mike Roemer/

About Karla Huston

The author of eight poetry chapbooks, the latest Grief Bone, (Five Oaks Press), and a full collection, A Theory of Lipstick (Main Street Rag Publications), Karla Huston has garnered many awards, including a Pushcart Prize for her poem “A Theory of Lipstick.” She received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association for her collection of the same title. Her writing has earned residencies at Ragdale Foundation as well as the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Her chapbook, Flight Patterns won the Main Street Rag Chapbook Contest in 2003. Huston has also been awarded three Jade Rings (one for fiction, two for poetry) from the Wisconsin Writers’ Association.
A lifelong resident of the state, Huston is a graduate of West Salem High School. She has earned two degrees from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (BS-Education, MA-English, Creative Writing). She started writing poetry when she began teaching creative writing in the mid-nineties at Neenah High School where she worked for fifteen years.
Huston is active in the Wisconsin writing community. She has served on the board of directors for Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets as well as the Fox Valley Writing project, an offshoot the National Writing Project, which stresses teachers teaching teachers and encourages cross-curricular writing. Currently she is active on the board of the Council for Wisconsin Writers. In addition, Huston serves as vice president, membership coordinator, and teaching staff at The Mill: A Place for Writers, a Fox Cities venue which offers a creative environment to encourage the growth of the literary community and provides learning opportunities for writers at all levels. For several years she has contributed to the Fox Cities Book Festival helping to create poetry events during the festival. 

About the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission

The Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission is comprised of volunteers who perform several functions crucial to the maintenance of the Wisconsin Poet Laureate position.
The Wisconsin Poet Laureate program was originally created by an executive order of Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson in 2000. After the $2,000 annual budget for the laureateship was eliminated by Governor Scott Walker, the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters announced its stewardship of the program to ensure its survival. Today, the position of Wisconsin Poet Laureate is kept alive by individual donations, and by financial support from member organizations. Members of the commission include representatives from each of these organizations, along with at-large commission members from across the state.

About the Wisconsin Academy

The Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters is a lifelong learning organization founded in 1870 by and for the people of Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Academy produces programs and publications that explore, explain, and sustain Wisconsin thought and culture. Our signature publication is Wisconsin People & Ideas, the quarterly magazine of Wisconsin thought and culture; programs include the James Watrous Gallery in Overture Center for the Arts, which showcases contemporary art from Wisconsin; Academy Talks, a series of public lectures and discussion forums; Wisconsin Initiatives, exploring major sustainability issues and solutions; and a Fellows Program, which recognizes accomplished individuals with a lifelong commitment to intellectual discourse and public service. The Wisconsin Academy also supports the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission and many other endeavors that elevate Wisconsin thought and culture.
Copyright © 2017 Wisconsin Academy of Sciences Arts and Letters. All rights reserved.

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