Mary Swander Named Poet Laureate of State of Iowa
— filed under: Creative Writing
Governor Chet Culver today appointed Mary Swander, an ISU Distinguished Professor of English, as Iowa's new Poet Laureate. Swander will serve a two-year appointment as the state's symbolic leader of poetry.
Governor Chet Culver today appointed Mary Swander as Iowa’s new Poet Laureate. Swander will serve a two-year appointment as the state’s symbolic leader of poetry. As Poet Laureate, Swander will deliver poems at official Iowa public events at the invitation of the Governor.
“Mary Swander has had a long and distinguished career as an author and a teacher of poetry and other forms of literature,” Governor Culver said. “In her new role as Iowa’s Poet Laureate, she will be a strong and passionate advocate for Iowa’s unique culture and the inspiration that poetry can offer.”
Swander is a fourth-generation Iowan who has lived in the state most of her life. She received her undergraduate degree in English from Georgetown University and is a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop M.F.A Program at the University of Iowa. She is currently a Distinguished Professor at Iowa State University and is working on a book of poetry entitled “The Girls on the Roof.” Active in the arts in the state, Swander learned the history, landscape and culture of Iowa through such activities as the Iowa Arts Council’s Touring Arts Team and the Artist in the Schools program.
Her best-selling book of poetry, “Driving the Body Back,” is set during homesteading times in Iowa; her musical, “Dear Iowa,” is set during the Civil War in the state; and she co-authored a book of art work and science about the Loess Hills called “Land of the Fragile Giants.” She has lived in eastern, western and central Iowa and has founded a national movement called Agarts to explore the intersection of arts and agriculture.
Swander has won numerous awards including an Iowa Author’s Award, a Whiting Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Grant for the Literary Arts, two Ingram Merrill Awards and the Carl Sandberg Literary Award.