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Kentucky Writers: Authors of the Bluegrass State

"Authors of the Bluegrass State" is a guide by Kentucky Collects. This guide provides information about authors and writers from Kentucky and their work.

Kentucky Poets Laureate

In 1926, the Kentucky General Assembly established the position of Kentucky Poet Laureate, and James T. "Cotton" Noe was nominated to the role. Originally, the General Assembly granted poets laureate lifetime appointments, and sometimes several people occupied the position simultaneously. However, in 1990, new legislation changed the position to a gubernatorial appointment and limited the position to a two-year term.

Duties of the Kentucky Poet Laureate involve promoting the literary arts throughout the Commonwealth, particularly participating in state literary activities like Kentucky Writers' Day.

Selection of the Kentucky Poet Laureate follows a public call for nominations. Nominees must "reside in Kentucky, have a long association with the Commonwealth, and have a critically acclaimed published body of work that is informed by living in Kentucky." Nominees are reviewed by an independent panel, and the Governor selects the final appointee. 

Source: Kentucky Arts Council

Current Kentucky Poet Laureate: Crystal Wilkinson

Crystal Wilkinson

"I hope to amplify the wondrous variety of Kentucky stories by going to libraries, either via Zoom or in-person. I'm interested in stories from different cultures."  -- Poet Laureate Crystal Wilkinson

Contact: To request a reading or other activity, email the poet laureate at Include "Poet Laureate Request" in the subject line.

Source: Kentucky Arts Council

Explore Works by Kentucky Poets Laureate

Publications about Kentucky Poets

Poets Laureate

1926 - J. T. Cotton Noe

1928 - Edward G. Hill*

1942 - Louise Scott Phillips

1954 - Edwin Carlile Litsey

1954 - Jesse Hilton Stuart

1956 - Lowell Allen Williams

1974 - Lillie D. Chaffin (Associate Poet Laureate)

1976 - Senator Tom Mobley

1978 - Agnes S. O'Rear

1984 - Soc Clay

1984 - Lee Pennington

1984 - Paul Salyers

1986 - Dale Faughn

1986 - Jim Wayne Miller

1986 - Henry E. Pilkenton

1990 - James H. Patton, Jr.

1995-1996 - James Still*

1997-1998 - Joy Bale Boone*

1999-2000 - Richard Taylor*

2001-2002 - James Baker Hall*

2003-2004 - Joe Survant*

2005-2006 - Sena Jeter Naslund*

2007-2008 - Jane Gentry*

2009-2010 - Gurney Norman*

2011-2012 - Maureen Morehead*

2013-2014 - Frank X. Walker*

2015-2016 - George Ella Lyon*

2017-2018 - Frederick Smock*

2019-2020 - Jeff Worley*

2021-2022 - Crystal Wilkinson*


*Gubernatorial Appointment

Source: Kentucky Arts Council


United States National Poets Laureate:

2022-2023, Limón, Ada

1986-1987, Robert Penn Warren

1943-1944, Allen Tate

1944-1945, Robert Penn Warren