Wyoming Arts Council

Wyoming Poet Laureate

The Poet Laureate position was established in Wyoming in 1981. The first Poet Laureate was Peggy Simson Curry, appointed through an Executive Order by Gov. Ed Herschler on January 14, 1981. The appointment of the Poet Laureate is at the Governor’s discretion.

Meet Wyoming’s Poet Laureate, Barbara Smith

Governor Mark Gordon signed an executive order on October 26, 2023 naming Barbara Smith the 9th Poet Laureate of the State of Wyoming. Smith taught for 38 years at Western Wyoming Community College, or WWCC, prior to her retirement in 2007. While at WWCC, she directed the Wesswick Lecture Series in the Arts and Education, bringing numerous visiting writers to the school’s campus in southwest Wyoming.

“Barbara’s poetry captures the essence of Wyoming and is instantly relatable,” Gordon said. “Her work speaks to the incredible changes that have taken place in the state and across the West since the arrival of the first pioneers.”

Smith has a newly released collection of poetry — her first full-length poetry collection — titled “Putting a Name on It. In addition, her poetry and essays have been published in collections such as “Wyoming Fence Lines; Deep West: A Literary Tour of Wyoming” and the three-book series “Leaning Into the Wind,” “Woven on the Wind” and “Crazy Woman Creek.”

Other publications include the Montana anthology “The Last Best Place”; “Ucross: the 1st Ten Years”; “Letters from Wyoming,” “Wyoming Promises”; and “Drive, He Said”, an anthology about Americans and their cars, and “Blood, Water, Wind, and Stone,” among others.

In 2006, she received the Wyoming Governor’s Arts Award for her contributions in support of the arts in Rock Springs/Sweetwater County, as well as for her own writing.

Learn More about Barbara

WyomingTruth.org: WOMEN YOU SHOULD KNOW IN WYOMING: State’s Ninth Poet Laureate Pens Stories Rooted Deep in the West

Wyoming Public Radio: Rock Springs writer Barbara Smith named new Wyoming Poet Laureate

Previous Wyoming Poets Laureate

Gene Gagliano (2016 – October 2023)

Rose Hill (July 9, 2015 – July 10, 2016)

Echo Roy Klaproth (July 10, 2013 – July 8, 2015)

Patricia Frolander (November 7, 2011 – June 9, 2013)

David Romtvedt (August 15, 2004 – January 3, 2011)

Robert Roripaugh (July 21, 1995 – 2003)

Charles L. Levendosky (January 4, 1988 – 1995)

Peggy Simson Curry (January 14, 1981 – January 20, 1987)