Since the naming of Mississippi’s first poet laureate in 1963, the state’s poet laureate has served as the official state poet, creating and reading appropriate poetry upon state occasions and state agency activities, and representing the rich cultural heritage of Mississippi. In 1963, Maude Willard Leet Prenshaw was named to a lifetime term as laureate, followed by Louise Moss Montgomery and Winifred Hamrick Farrar. Starting in 2011, the Governor's Office, in partnership with the Mississippi Arts Commission and Mississippi’s other cultural agencies, instituted a four-year term for the state’s poet laureate, starting with Natasha Trethewey, who served from 2012 to 2016. Beth Ann Fennelly is the current laureate, whose term will expire in 2020.

Term of Service:
The individual selected will serve a four-year term, commencing in August 2020.

Eligibility Criteria:
The Mississippi Poet Laureate is an honorary position, and the selected individual must meet the following criteria to be eligible for consideration:
- Be either born or domiciled in Mississippi at the time of nomination;
- Possess a body of quality works;
- Have works widely published in books, anthologies, literary journals or magazines by recognized, reputable publishers; (please cite sources in bibliography);
- Reflect the essence and unique cultural heritage of Mississippi;
- Be available to travel and actively serve in the state;
- Be available for a personal interview with the Poet Laureate Selection Committee (if selected as a potential finalist).

Position Expectations:
1. To serve as the official state poet, creating and reading appropriate poetry upon state occasions and state agency activities;
2. To represent the rich cultural heritage of Mississippi;
3. To help identify Mississippi poets, write poetry, promote literacy and the literary arts by attending events and speaking with schools and organizations
4. To serve as the Honorary Host of the NEA’s Poetry Out Loud initiative in Mississippi;
5. To serve as a Mississippi Arts Commission Teaching Artist

Nomination process:
Nominations are reviewed by the Mississippi Poet Laureate Selection Panel, an advisory council consisting of representatives from state's cultural agencies and professionals in the literary community. After reviewing nominations, the Selection Panel convenes to interview the finalists and submits a list of persons qualified and eligible for the position to the Governor's office. The Governor considers these recommendations in making the final selection. 

The Mississippi Arts Commission complies with all local, state, and federal laws and regulations concerning civil and human rights. The Mississippi Arts Commission’s programs, grants, and employment practices are free of discrimination based on race, gender, color, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity, military status, or age.
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