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Contributed By:

Elyssa Kiva

Incoming And Outgoing Oregon Poet Laureates

OPB | May 29, 2014 12:25 p.m. | Updated: May 29, 2014 2:04 p.m.

Photo: Nick Kenrick via Flickr

Photo: Nick Kenrick via Flickr

The Oregon poet laureate position was filled for the first time in 1923, though the post has been empty for long stretches since then. By far, the state’s best-known poet laureate is the late William Stafford, whose centennial is this year. Over the last decade, the poet laureate has become a thriving institution following Stafford’s retirement from the position in 1989.  

This year after two terms as poet laureate, Paulann Petersen is stepping down to make room for Oregon’s seventh laureate, Peter Sears. Petersen has covered more then 26,000 miles as poet laureate and says she has “traveled the world inside Oregon.” 

Sears was the runner-up for the position in 2010 when Petersen was first named poet laureate. Sears says he’s eager to take poems all around Oregon, like Petersen and others before himhave done. And he says he’s particularly inspired by the role poetry has to play in tapping into people’s imagination and memory.

What poems or poets have inspired you?

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