English Professor Named Next South Dakota Poet Laureate

The South Dakota Poetry Society announced that the English professor, Christine Stewart, is the next Poet Laureate for the state of South Dakota. Read on for more.

New South Dakota Poet Laureate

Christine Stewart currently teaches at the South Dakota University Department of English, and her new title of Poet Laureate starts from July 1, lasting for the next four years.

This poetry ambassador states that she will be giving her best in promoting poetry, but will be dealing with the stereotypes surrounding it too. According to her, there are many misconceptions that keep people away from trying to understand poetry. She stated that her goal would be changing the perspective on this art form since if you choose to be interested in poetry, you will be given a unique reading experience since the same poem can reflect differently on each individual.

Stewart took this opportunity to talk about her early start and events that lead her to the place where she is today.

She mentioned that it is essential to understand all sources of inspiration that a poet could use to create, so she talked about her formative events that affected her as a poet. She started writing in order to process all the emotions she felt after the loss of her big sister at the age of 11. She turned it into a habit, to be able to get over her loss. Eventually, she became known for her writing throughout her education, and she chose her path.

Writing is the part of her identity, and it reflects the way she sees the world, she stated.

After majoring in English, she went on a new journey and started teaching in Turkey for two years. After her return, she decided that she would like to pursue a career as a university teacher, and she went for it.

Like many poets out there, she had her doubts—she felt like she was wasting her time—since nobody is ever going to read her work. But she continued writing and ended up creating four full-length books of poetry and three chapbooks.

According to her, the most successful book that got the most reaction from her audience was ‘Unbound&Branded’ in which a poem ‘Bad Girl’ got the most positive feedback, mostly from the female audience. This is one of her favorites too since it talks about women feeling restrained by the rules, and breaking them brings some sort of liberation.

As for the Poet Laureate, Stewart states that she was up against two fantastic candidates, Patrick Hicks, and Jim Reese, and she knew she had to bring her A game. This is why she suggested her plan for all four years as a South Dakota Poet Laureate immediately. Her main goal is to create an anthology of poetry about South Dakota by South Dakotans and visit the schools and communities where she will talk about poetry.

During the first year of her mandate, she proposes the compiling and the sorting of all published poems in the state, while placing an emphasis on the cultural diversity and all sorts of experiences.

During the rest of her tenure, she states that she will do her best to talk about poetry around the state, holding webinars and creating an online community that will archive all the necessary information as well as post poems online.

What is interesting about the title of Poet Laureate is that it doesn’t get any funding, so Stewart will need to do a lot of fundraising in order to accomplish her ideas. However, Stewart stressed that she is looking forward to it, mainly because she genuinely believes that poetry is an important aspect of our lives.

According to her, it is powerful to be able to communicate with one another that way.

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