I forget what I was looking for when I stumbled across the website of the Illinois Poet Laureate. It seems like a wonderful site, and in keeping with the mission of a Poet Laureate; it's filled with poetry links and other great information. (The biography of the Illinois PL, Kevin Stein, is interesting; I discovered that he teaches at Bradley, in Peoria, where I grew up, and lives in Dunlap, the small town where one of my sisters attended high school.) But in perusing the site I got to wondering: Why a Poet Laureate? Why not a Proser Laureate? (A “proser,” as you probably have guessed, would be one who writes prose, as a “poet” is one who writes poetry. Or is there a better word?) Or at least a Writer Laureate?
It turns out, to my surprise, that two states, Alaska and Idaho, do in fact have Writer Laureates—a position filled sometimes by a Poet and sometimes by a Proser. If you can’t afford to have both in these troubled times, this seems like an eminently sensible compromise.
And who are these laureates? Looking further, I found this wonderful offering from the New Hampshire Writers Project: A Laureate List. And here's a nother list, maintained by the Library of Congress.
Do you know your state's Laureate?