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The Indiana Arts Commission (IAC) recently announced the selection of Indianapolis resident Karen Kovacik as the Indiana State Poet Laureate.
Kovacik was born in East Chicago and grew up in Highland, Indiana in Lake County. She is a professor of English at IUPUI, where she directs the creative writing program.
“We often hear about ‘academic’ poetry versus spoken word or slam poetry. But I don’t believe in a town-gown divide,” Kovacik said. “I want to break down barriers and get diverse groups of poets talking together.”
She is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Metropolis Burning, and her work has received numerous honors, including the Charity Randall Citation from the International Poetry Forum, the Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Prize, and a Creative Renewal Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis.
In 2004, she was awarded a Fulbright Research Grant to Poland, and her translations of contemporary Polish poetry have appeared in many anthologies and journals, such as American Poetry Review, Crazyhorse and Southern Review. In 2010, her poem “Invisible Movements” was one of three winners of the Moving Forward contest and will be installed along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail.
During her tenure as Poet Laureate, Kovacik plans to write a literary blog on Hoosier writers, create a downloadable poetry-teaching toolkit for the Indiana Humanities Council, and sponsor events at schools and libraries throughout the state. “As a native Hoosier, I bristle at the notion, fostered by some, that our state is an uncultured backwater,” Kovacik said. “So many fine poets and writers live here, and I want everyone to know that.”
Kovacik will begin her two-year term as Indiana Poet Laureate January 1, 2012 serving through December 2013.
Last fall, the Indiana Arts Commission conducted a statewide call for nominations which were reviewed over the winter by a selection committee comprised of representatives from Indiana’s major institutions of higher education. Colleges and universities represented on the committee included: University of Notre Dame, Ball State University, Hanover College, DePauw University, University of Indianapolis, Indiana University, and Indiana State University.
Increasing the awareness of poetry and the power of the written and spoken word was the inspiration behind legislation signed into law in 2005 by Governor Mitch Daniels. The legislation provides for the development of specific educational programming coordinated between the Indiana Arts Commission, the Indiana Department of Education, and the State Poet Laureate.
Joyce Brinkman was the first Indiana Poet Laureate selected for this program. Norbert Krapf succeeded Ms. Brinkman.
Designated Indiana Poet Laureate Karen Kovacik Selected as an NEA Literature Translation Fellow - Read about her project.