Arts | News | Oregon

Peter Sears Named Next Oregon Poet Laureate

OPB | April 25, 2014 10:26 a.m. | Updated: April 26, 2014 10:53 a.m. | Portland

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Governor John Kitzhaber has named Peter Sears as Oregon’s next Poet Laureate. Sears has taught at Reed College and now lectures at Pacific University. He’s published three full-length books of poetry, with a fourth, Small Talk: New and Selected Poems, coming soon from Lynx House Press.

While Sears carries a folder everywhere, to jot down poems in progress, he calls teaching and working with other poets a huge part of his life.

While Sears carries a folder everywhere, to jot down poems in progress, he calls teaching and working with other poets a huge part of his life.

Oregon Arts Commission

Sears went to school at Yale, and spent three years as an intelligence linguist for the Army, stationed in Germany. He came to Oregon in 1974, to be a writer-in-residence at Reed, and now lives in Corvallis.

Sears says he’s friends with some of his predecessors, Lawson Inada, and the present Poet Laureate, Paulann Peterson, and has had a chance to see how they’ve used their influence.

“I’ve always thought the readings poets do could be a bit more partnered. I have this notion of expanding voices. I’d like to arrange to have a person from within the community read with me,” as he travels around the state. The Poet Laureate traditionally travels around Oregon, giving readings, and talking with readers and writers in farflung communities.

“The selection committee was moved not only by the quality of Peter’s poetry, but also by his record of working with communities across Oregon and supporting writers,” said Adam Davies, the director of Oregon Humanities.

Sears says before he learned of his appointment, he was mostly working on teaching, and new poems, including one about spring.

“I recently tried a poem about spring,” he said. “I know it sounds corny but I did. Spring came too fast, it caught me off guard.”

You can read some selections from his work here. Listen to this link to hear Sears reading his poem, “No Problem.”

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