2021-2022 Oklahoma State Poet Laureate
Joe Russell Kreger
Joe Russell Kreger from Tonkawa was appointed to serve as the 2021-2022 Oklahoma State Poet Laureate by Oklahoma J. Kevin Stitt in April 2021. A farmer and rancher by trade, Kreger was introduced to poetry at a young age by his father, yet his venture into creative writing didn’t begin until he was 56 years old, when he began using poetry to document and express his life experiences. A self-described “cowboy poet,” Kreger has published two books on poetry, “Lookin’ at Life” and “Still Lookin’,” as well as several audio albums of his poetry. His books and albums have set sales records among cowboy poets of his era. Since taking up poetry, Kreger has given over 150 poetry readings and presentations in schools, churches, and agricultural organizations in the region.
Kreger is a graduate of Northern Oklahoma College and Oklahoma State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science. In his early career, he held administrative positions with Continental Oil Company of Ponca City in the company’s geophysics operations and corporate purchasing departments. He later became a full-time rancher and entrepreneur, founding Kreger Equipment, a livestock and ranch equipment Oklahoma distribution business. Kreger eventually closed out the company to devote his efforts to working and growing Kreger Ranch, a purebred and commercial beef cattle operation.
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How to bring the Oklahoma State Poet Laureate to your community or school
Oklahoma Arts Council grant funding is available to support eligible programs featuring the Oklahoma State Poet Laureate. To learn how you can bring the Oklahoma State Poet Laureate to your community or school to present workshops, readings, and more, please contact our Grants Director.
About the Oklahoma State Poet Laureate Program
The Oklahoma Arts Council works on behalf of the Office of the Governor to solicit nominations for the honorary position of Oklahoma State Poet Laureate. The position was codified in 1994 through State Statute 98.4. According to the legislation, the appointment by the Governor shall be made by January 1 of every odd year thus the Oklahoma State Poet Laureate serves for a period of two years.
During even numbered years, the Oklahoma Arts Council puts out a call for nominations from cultural organizations, such as poetry societies, writers’ groups, colleges and universities, local arts and humanities councils, and libraries. A review committee that may consist of poets, university professors, former poets laureate, and others with expertise in poetry reviews submissions and makes a recommendation to the Governor. The final determination and appointment of the Oklahoma State Poet Laureate is made by the Governor. Poets laureate appointments holdover until a succeeding Oklahoma State Poet Laureate is named.
Nominees must be a distinguished poet who is a resident of Oklahoma throughout his/her term and has a published body of work that includes at least one original book (not self-published). Nominees should be committed to outreach and the promotion of poetry statewide. The nominee must also indicate agreement to be nominated.
Subject to availability of funding, direct compensation in the form of honoraria may be provided to the Oklahoma State Poet Laureate by the Oklahoma Arts Council. Additional opportunities for compensation may be available through programs featuring the Oklahoma State Poet Laureate that are administered by organizations eligible for Oklahoma Arts Council grant funding. Organizations and programs must meet Oklahoma Arts Council grant eligibility criteria.
Nomination Review Committee
The Nomination Review Committee consists of individuals with expertise in literary art forms, including poets, university professors, former state poets laureate, and others. The final determination and appointment is made by the Governor.
Oklahoma Poets Laureate
- 1923 Violet McDougal
- 1931 Paul Kroeger
- 1940 Jenny Harris Oliver
- 1943 Della I. Young
- 1944 Anne R. Semple
- 1945 Bess Truitt
- 1963 Delbert Davis
- 1966 Rudolph N. Hill
- 1970 Leslie A. McRill
- 1970 Rudolph N. Hill (Emeritus)
- 1977 Maggie Culver Fry
- 1995 Carol Hamilton
- 1997 Betty Shipley
- 1998 Joe Russell Kreger
- 2001 Carl Sennhenn
- 2003 Francine Ringold
- 2007 N. Scott Momaday
- 2009 Jim Barnes
- 2011 Eddie Wilcoxen
- 2013 Nathan Brown
- 2015 Benjamin Myers
- 2017 Jeanetta Calhoun Mish
- 2021 Joe Russell Kreger
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