Oklahoma State Poet Laureates


Adopted 1994

Appointed by the Governor for a period of two years, appointment made by January 1 of every odd year.

Nathan Brown
Oklahoma State Poet Laureate, 2013-2014

Nathan Brown is a distinguished speaker, musician, photographer, songwriter, and award-winning poet. He is author of eight books, most recently Karma Crisis: New and Selected Poems (2012) and editor of Oklahoma Poems and Their Poets (2014). His book, Two Tables Over, won the prestigious 2009 Oklahoma Book Award for Poetry given by Oklahoma Center for the Book.

Traveling extensively, Nathan shares his love of poetry and music with audiences of all ages. He facilitates poetry workshops for all skill levels in high schools, museums, arts councils, universities, and senior education programs.

Nathan seeks to make poetry more accessible to people who do not easily connect with this sometimes perplexing art form. His ability to engage diverse audiences, along with his passion, knowledge, and talent, makes him an ideal ambassador for poetry throughout the state.

Oklahoma State Poet Laureates

Previous Poet Laureates:

Violet McDougal (1923-3)

Paul Kroeger (1931-1940)

Jenny Harris Oliver (1940-43)

Della I. Young (1943-1944)

Anne R. Semple (1944-45)

Bess Truitt (1945-46) (No other poets laureate were named until 1963, so she is generally considered the state's poet laureate until then.)

Delbert Davis (1963-1966)

Rudolph N. Hill (1966-70)

Leslie A. McRill (1970-1977)

Maggie Culver Fry (1977-1995)

Carol Hamilton (1995-1997)

Betty Shipley (1997-98)

Joe Kreger (1998-2001)

Carl Sennhenn (2001-2003)

Francine Ringold (2003 -2005)

FOklahoma State Poet Laureate: Francine Ringoldrancine Ringold, poet and editor of Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry at The University of Tulsa, has been named poet laureate of the state of Oklahoma by Gov. Brad Henry. As poet laureate, Ringold will give public readings and organize events that will broaden the scope poetry in the state. The post runs through 2005.

Ringold is a published writer of prose, poetry and plays, Her book "The Trouble with Voices" received the Oklahoma Book Award in 1996. Her newest volume of poetry, "Every Other One," a collaboration with her husband Manly Johnson, was a finalist for the same award in 2000.

Ringold has taught literature, creative writing and theatre at The University of Tulsa, as well as in the Oklahoma State Arts in Education and Artists in the Schools programs, at the Oklahoma School for the Deaf, and at the Tulsa Center for the Physically Limited. Ringold received her Ph.D. in English Literature from The University of Tulsa and her bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan.

Ringold has also published two books about creative writing: "A Magic Journey: Writing and Painting at Gatesway," focused on her work for the developmentally disabled, and "Making Your Own Mark: A Guide to Writing and Drawing for Senior Citizens." Ringold has served as Humanities Scholar in Residence for KWGS-FM radio, and as advisor to the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa, Tulsa Opera and the American Theatre Company. In 2003, she was named Newsmaker of the Year by Women in Communications in Tulsa.

Ringold has served as editor of the Nimrod journal for more than 35 years and each year organizes the prestigious Nimrod Hardman Awards Workshop and Conference, which draws participants from around the world.

N. Scott Momaday (2007-2009)

Governor Brad Henry appointed N. Scott Momaday as the Oklahoma Centennial State Poet Laureate in 2007. Momaday is a noted scholar, author, and poet and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1969 for his novel House Made of Dawn.

At the outset of his term, Momaday made a commitment to engage with Oklahoma students, to convey the message that poetry is a valuable and relevant part of our literary heritage. He worked closely with the Oklahoma Humanities Council and its Poetry Out Loud program to foster interest in poetry among high school students.

Jim Barnes (2009-2011)

No art is more important to me than poetry, for poetry makes everything happen.- Jim Barnes

Jim Weaver McKown Barnes, of Choctaw and Welsh ancestry, grew up in Summerfield, Oklahoma. His non-fiction prose book, On Native Ground: Memoirs and Impressions, reflects Oklahoma and Native cultures and won the American Book Award in 1998. He has authored several volumes of poetry, including The Sawdust War: Poems, which won the Oklahoma Book Award in 1993; Paris: Poems; On a Wing of the Sun: Three Volumes of Poetry; and his most recent work, Visiting Picasso (University of Illinois Press, 2007).

Eddie Wilcoxen (2011-2013)

Eddie Wilcoxen is a career radio broadcaster with a popular morning show on KWHW in Altus. He has written seven volumes of poetry and one non-fiction work. His newest book, Faith, Hope and Poetry, is scheduled for a February release.

Wilcoxen is widely recognized for landscape design; his home gardens were featured in Oklahoma Gardener magazine. He is also a three-time national karate champion and established "Kihido Karate,"a character-building curriculum emphasizing personal responsibility as the key to personal success. In 1996 he was designated an "Official Olympic Hero"and chosen to carry the Olympic Torch on its historic journey across the United States to Atlanta, Georgia.

Oklahoma Law

The law designating  the official Oklahoma state poet laureate is found in the Oklahoma Statutes, Title 25, Section 25-98.4.

Codified in 1994 through Oklahoma State Statute 98.4.

Position History:
Position established June 21, 1923 (Statutes, 1995 Supplement, Sec. 98.4). Full text of law follows:

§25-98.4. State Poet Laureate.

There is hereby designated the honorary position of State Poet Laureate. The State Poet Laureate shall be appointed by the Governor from lists provided by poetry societies and organizations and such person shall have this honorary position for a period of two (2) years. Each appointment shall be made by January 1 of every odd year beginning January 1, 1995. The person appointed to the honorary position of State Poet Laureate shall not be considered a state official or a state employee for such person's service in the honorary position of State Poet Laureate. The State Poet Laureate shall not be prohibited because of said appointed position from:
1. Running for and being elected to any office in the state or a political subdivision of the state; or
2. Being employed as a classified or unclassified employee of the state or a political subdivision of the state.

Added by Laws 1994, c. 53, § 1.


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