The Connecticut Office of the Arts recently announced the appointment of Margaret Gibson of Preston as Connecticut’s Official State Poet Laureate.
The role as state poet is to advocate for poetry and promote appreciation of and participation in poetry and the literary arts among Connecticut’s residents and visitors. Established in 1985, the honorary position serves a three-year term. Gibson succeeds Rennie McQuilkin, who has served since 2015.
“Connecticut’s cultural heritage is part of what makes our state so unique,” Governor Ned Lamont said. “The poet laureate serves as an ambassador to Connecticut’s literary world and we are excited to have Margaret at the helm of this position.”
A longtime Connecticut resident, Margaret Gibson is the author of 12 books of poems, most recently, Not Hearing the Wood Thrush (Finalist, 2019 Poets’ Prize), as well as a memoir, The Prodigal Daughter: Reclaiming an Unfinished Childhood. Her debut poetry volume, Long Walks in the Afternoon, was awarded the Lamont Selection from the Academy of American Poets.
Additional honors include a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the James Boatright III Prize, the Melville Kane Award from the Poetry Society of America (co-winner), the Connecticut Center for the Book Award in Poetry, and three Pushcart Prizes. The Vigil was a Finalist for the National Book award in Poetry in 1993. Her work has been published in such magazines as Connecticut Review, Kenyon Review, The Georgia Review, and Prairie Schooner; and in numerous anthologies, including Best American Poetry, 2009 and 2017; Beneath a Single Moon: Buddhism in Contemporary Poetry; and Atomic Ghost: Poets Respond to the Nuclear Age.
Professor Emerita at the University of Connecticut, Gibson was Poetry Editor of New Virginia Review, 1992-98; and has taught or served as writer-in-residence at the University of Massachusetts (MFA Program), Reed College, Virginia Commonwealth University (MFA Program), and several other institutions nationally.
“To write poetry, to read poetry, is to deepen and clarify one’s own nature and to open outward to a community of listeners and participants. Poets are truth-tellers, and we need to hear their voices now more than ever. I have been given to generously in my life; it is time now to give back,” says Gibson. “I look forward to offering solo and group poetry readings, panels, and workshops, and using these to build a more clear and vocal sense of community that is engaged and caring.”
Gibson was selected from an exceptionally strong field of candidates. Selection involves a public nomination process, followed by a review by professional panelists who assess candidates for their reputation and distinction within the field of poetry, quality of the work, and commitment to fostering appreciation and participation in poetry. This year’s panelists were Daniel Donaghy, Marie Harris, Alison Meyers, and Marilyn Nelson.
“The Connecticut Office of the Arts is thrilled to welcome Margaret Gibson as Connecticut’s Poet Laureate. Poetry is a form of language where every word choice is critical, it is the building block of skilled and skillful communication. We look forward to listening to and learning from Gibson’s honest, intelligent words,” said Liz Shapiro, DECD’s Director of Arts and Historic Preservation.
“The Connecticut Center for the Book looks forward to working with Ms. Gibson over her term as Connecticut’s Poet Laureate,” said Lisa Comstock, director of the Connecticut Center for the Book. “Poetry is about reflection, thinking deeply, and articulating those thoughts so they also resonate with the reader deeply. Ms. Gibson certainly gave me that with Broken Cup.”
To learn more about Margaret Gibson please visit www.margaretgibsonpoetry.com.