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Indiana Poet Laureate

What does Indiana's Poet Laureate do?

In 2005, Senate Bill No. 433 established a process for selecting a state poet laureate. The Indiana Poet Laureate is responsible for:

  • Making appearances at schools, including the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Indiana School for the Deaf, and libraries
  • Offering advice to the IAC concerning ways to further the art of poetry in Indiana
  • Representing Indiana and the art of poetry to the education community and public

The role of Poet Laureate is an honorary position with an expectation of approximately one hour per month of service to IAC activities. Outside requests of the Poet Laureate's time and talents for events and appearances will be negotiated by the Poet Laureate on a case-by-case basis. Financial compensation for this work is intended to cover the time required to provide a few public events across the state. In addition to general public events, a Poet Laureate may pursue programming that aligns with their vision of poetry's impact on the state.

Meet Indiana's Poet Laureate Curtis L. Crisler

Curtis L. Crisler was born and raised in Gary, Indiana. He received a BA in English, with a minor in Theatre, from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW, now PFW), and he received his MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Crisler’s (and Kevin McKelvey’s) poetry book Indiana Nocturnes: Our Rural and Urban Patchwork, was published by Nebo Publishing (with front and back cover art by Genna Pianki). Other poetry books are THe GReY aLBuM [PoeMS], winner of a Steel Toe Books Open Reading Period Prize (Steel Toe Books); Don’t Moan So Much (Stevie): A Poetry Musiquarium (Kattywompus Press);“This” Ameri-can-ah (Cherry Castle Publishing, with artwork by Melissa Vandenberg); Pulling Scabs, nominated for a Pushcart (Aquarius Press, with cover art by Curt Bailey). His YA books are Tough Boy Sonatas (Wordsong: an imprint of Boyd’s Mills Press, Inc.: a Highlights Company, with cover art and illustrations by Floyd Cooper), and Dreamist: a mixed-genre novel (Jordan’s Rainbow YA Book: a Division of Aquarius Press). His poetry chapbooks are Black Achilles (Accents Publishing); Wonderkind, nominated for a Pushcart (Aquarius Press); Soundtrack to Latchkey Boy (Finishing Line Press, with cover art by Crisler); Spill, won a Keyhole Chapbook Award (Keyhole Press); and Burnt Offering of a City, won the Kathy Young Chapbook Award (cover art by Curt Bailey and interior graphic art by Galen Bailey).

Crisler’s awarded fellowships and residencies come from the City of Asylum/Pittsburgh (COA/P), Cave Canem (Fellow), the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), Soul Mountain (Connecticut), a guest resident at Hamline University (Minnesota), a guest resident at Words on the Go (Indiana), and Writer-in-Residence (Writers @ The Carr Program) sponsored by Poets & Writers, INC (Michigan). Crisler’s awarded grants and awards come from a Library Scholars Grant Award, a RHINO Founder’s Award, Indiana Arts Commission Grants, Eric Hoffer Awards, the Sterling Plumpp First Voices Poetry Award, and he was nominated for the Eliot Rosewater Award and a Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Award.

Crisler’s poetry has been adapted to theatrical productions in New York and Chicago, and he’s been anthologized in Black Fire This Time, Volume 1, Black in the Middle; An Indiana Christmas; Bop, Strut, and Dance: A Post Blues Form for New Generations; Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry; Undead: A Poetry Anthology of Ghosts, Ghouls, and More; The Golden Shovel Anthology; Resist Much Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance; Not Like the Rest of Us: An Anthology of Contemporary Indiana Writers; Drawn to Marvel: Poems From the Comic Books; An Anthology of Chicago Poetry: City of the Big Shoulders; Say it Loud: Poems about James Brown; Our Common Suffering: Anthology of Poets in Memoriam 2008 Sichuan Earthquake; The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South: A Cave Canem Anthology; In the Eye: A Collection of Writings; Fingernails Across a Chalkboard: Anthology: Poetry and Prose on HIV/AIDS from the Black Diaspora; Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade; Only the Sea Keeps: Poetry of the Tsunami; Dare To Dream…Change The World; and Essence. He’s been published in a variety of magazines and journals. He was commissioned for William Morris (a glass artist) by the Fort Wayne Museum of Art (FWMoA). He’s been a Contributing Poetry Editor for Aquarius Press and a Poetry Editor for Human Equity through Art (HEArt).

Crisler’s work exhibits what he calls an urban Midwestern sensibility (uMs). What uMs exemplifies is “the community and creativity of the varied relationships of descendants from the first through second waves of the southern migration, exploring their connections to place/environment, history, family, and self.” Also, he created the poetry form the sonastic and the Indiana Chitlin Circuit (a small circuit bringing writers to Ft. Wayne). Crisler is Professor of English at Purdue University Fort Wayne. Contact him for readings, workshops, presentations, lectures, etc. at

Eligibility Criteria: 

-18 years of age or older

-Must reside in the state of Indiana for at least three years prior to the appointment and must continue to live in Indiana during the appointed term (January 1, 2024- Dec. 31, 2026).

-Have a robust body of publicly accessible work, including one or more quality collections of poetry or a substantial history of spoken word performances

-Must submit application accurately, with all materials, by the deadline (Sept. 1, 2023)

An ideal candidate for Poet Laureate is a Hoosier who is: 

-An ambassador of poetry who, if appointed, can use the position as a platform to illuminate not only their own work, but the work of other writers in Indiana.

-A community-oriented poet with the desire to spread the joy of poetry, literature, literacy, and storytelling across the state.

-A demonstrated leader that shows a commitment to promoting awareness of poetry through community engagement with an interest in and capability of listening, engaging, and incorporating diverse people and perspectives.

-Someone who can inspire the next generation of writers and readers.

-A self-starter who can organize events, activating Hoosier involvement of the arts, and creating avenues for writers and readers to connect.

Selection Process: 

1.) Open for Nominations and Applications

2.) Chosen Semifinalists will be asked to complete a narrative application, consisting of a few questions that the Poet Laureate Selection Committee would like more information about

3.) Finalist will be asked to complete a Zoom interview with the Poet Laureate Selection Committee

4.) Candidates will be notified of decisions

5.) The IAC will publicly announce the Poet Laureate for the 2024-2026 Term

View the 2024-2026 Guidelines.


Nomination Form and Application Form AvailableJuly 31, 2023
Nomination DeadlineAug. 11, 2023 at 5:00PM ET
Application DeadlineSept. 1, 2023 at 5:00PM  ET

Have questions about this program? Please reach out. We're here to help!

Miah Michaelsen
Executive Director
Indiana Arts Commission

If  your school, college, university, organization, or association would be interested in Indiana Poet Laureate Curtis L. Crisler for an event, visit

INverse Poetry Archive

INverse celebrates and preserves the diverse range of Indiana poetry for future generations of Indiana writers and readers. It is a collaboration of former Indiana Poet Laureate Adrian Matejka, the Indiana State Library and the Indiana Arts Commission. Residents of Indiana are encouraged to submit poems to the archive annually between February 1 and April 30. Click here for more information about the archive.

Former Poets Laureate

Please note: In 2012 the Indiana Poet Laureate started serving a calendar year, two-year term.  

Joyce Brinkman, July 2002 through June 2008 (interview)

Norbert Krapf, July 2008 through June 2010 (website)

Karen Kovacik, 2012, 2013 (website)

George Kalamaras, 2014, 2015 (website)

Shari Wagner, 2016, 2017 (website)

Adrian Matejka, 2018, 2019 (website)

Matthew Graham, 2020, 2021, 2022

People, Places, and Poetry

by Joyce Brinkman
Read the blog.

Combining Poetry and Song as Indiana Poet Laureate

by Norbert Krapf

Read the blog.

Poetry in My Life

by Matthew Graham

Read the blog.

In the Land of Poets

by Shari Wagner

Read the blog.

Reflection and Resurgence: Poetry throughout Changing Times

by Karen Kovacik

Read the blog.

Poetry: A Great Breathing Among the Trees

by George Kalamaras

Read the blog.