Did you know that the U.P. has a Poet Laureate?
A poet laureate is a poet who is officially appointed by a government to write poems for special events. This has been a position since the 1300s, and all over the world. The name “Poet Laureate” derives from the ceremony of crowning honored poets with a wreath of laurels, such as was used in Ancient Greece.
On December 20, 1985, the United States declared an official position called Poet Laureate. During their term, the poet laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry. This position does not have many assigned duties so that each poet can accomplish their mission through programs that are most appropriate to their work. Our incumbent national Poet Laureate is Joy Harjo, an internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
The current Upper Peninsula Poet Laureate is M. Bartley Seigel.
M. Bartley Seigel lives in the Keweenaw Peninsula, in Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula, in Ojibwe homelands and Treaty of 1842 territory, on the shores of Lake Superior. He received his MFA from the Pennsylvania State University, University Park, and a BA in Journalism from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He is the author of This Is What They Say (Typecast Publishing, 2013), and is founding editor-in-chief of the new poetry letterpress, Simple Machines Magazine, and founding editor emeritus of PANK Magazine, which he co-edited with Roxane Gay from 2006-2015. He is Associate Professor of Creative Writing and Writing Center Director in the Department of Humanities at Michigan Technological University. He is the 2021-2022 poet laureate of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In 2021, he received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship.
The interview begins at 30:05 of the recording