OKLAHOMA CITY (December 19, 2022) – Jay Snider of Cyril, Oklahoma, has been appointed by Governor J. Kevin Stitt to serve as the 2023-2024 Oklahoma State Poet Laureate. Snider is an award-winning cowboy poet and recording artist who has appeared at national and regional events. He is widely recognized in the Oklahoma cowboy poetry community and is a frequent contributor to programs presented by the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, Oklahoma.
“It is an honor to appoint Jay Snider as the 2023-2024 Oklahoma State Poet Laureate,” said Governor Stitt. “Jay is a creative and talented Oklahoman, who has combined his love for our state and western heritage with his passion for poetry, and I look forward to this cowboy poet carrying on Oklahoma’s tradition and sharing his talent across the state.”
Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples said, “Oklahomans everywhere will connect with Jay’s poetry and stories as someone who fully embodies the spirit of the American West and cowboy way of life. Jay has received numerous recognitions throughout his years of writing, recording, and presenting poetry, but perhaps most compelling is how highly he came recommended by many people across the state. We look forward to working with Jay as we offer funding to schools and organizations interested in bringing the Oklahoma State Poet Laureate to their community.”
“It is an extreme honor to have been considered for the appointment of Oklahoma Poet Laureate,” said Snider. “The great state of Oklahoma has a rich history, and much of our heritage has been passed down through generations as oral history and through the writings of great authors. I have been fascinated by the storytellers of the past, the “Old Timers,” if you will. I felt the need to listen to those stories and hopefully keep them alive. Often, when the 'Old Timers' are gone, the stories are gone. Poetry has helped keep the old stories alive. Through the Oklahoma Poet Laureate position, I can continue to promote all types of poetry and storytelling in the great state of Oklahoma.”
Among national and regional events featuring Snider, he has appeared at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Nevada, the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, and the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering. Snider was a featured poet at the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering for many years. In 2001, he was chosen by CowboyPoetry.com as their fifth Lariat Laureate—awarded to poets whose work celebrates and preserves stories honoring Western heritage and the work of ranching and rural life. In 2006, Snider earned Cowboy Poetry Recording of the Year from the Academy of Western Artists for his CD, “Of Horses and Men.” In 2008, he was recognized as Cowboy Poet of the Year by the Academy of Western Artists. His latest album, “The Old Tried and True,” is a compilation of his favorite poems written by cowboy poets of the past.
Born and raised in a ranching and rodeo family in southwestern Oklahoma, Snider rodeoed as a young man. He currently stays busy raising ranch horses and cattle and taking part in team roping.
The tradition of officials conferring poets laureate to make public appearances and promote a greater appreciation of poetry originated hundreds of years ago. A United States Poet Laureate is appointed by the Librarian of Congress—Tulsa resident Joy Harjo, the first Native American and Oklahoman to hold the position, recently completed an unprecedented third term as U.S. Poet Laureate. Oklahoma’s poets laureate tradition dates back to 1923. The appointment of an Oklahoma State Poet Laureate by the Governor of Oklahoma was codified into state law in 1994. The statute calls for an appointment every two years. Joe Kreger of Tonkawa served as the 2021-2022 poet laureate.
The Oklahoma Arts Council serves on behalf of the Office of the Governor to solicit and facilitate recommendations for the honorary position. The agency supports the work of the Oklahoma State Poet Laureate by promoting their work and making grants available to eligible entities to present readings and programs featuring the laureate. Organizations and schools interested in presenting Snider can learn more at arts.ok.gov.
About the Oklahoma Arts Council
The Oklahoma Arts Council is the official state agency for the support and development of the arts. The agency’s mission is to lead, cultivate, and amplify the transformative power of the arts for all Oklahomans and their communities. The Oklahoma Arts Council provides hundreds of grants to organizations and schools in communities statewide each year, organizes professional development opportunities for the state's arts and cultural industry, and manages the art collections at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Additional information is available at arts.ok.gov.