USD English Newsletter 2017

In July 2015, I had the honor of being named the South Dakota Poet Laureate, and I’m currently halfway through my four-year appointment. I am absolutely committed to the literary communities of South Dakota and it is my hope that I can use this time to serve the poetry communities of South Dakota with knowledge and expertise, as well as to bring South Dakota poetry communities into larger, national poetry communities and conversations. In all of my endeavors, it has been a priority for me to remain true to the concept of place, space and landscape, and as such, South Dakota has certainly informed much of my own creative work since 2000. Aspects of place, space and landscape have been integral features with respect to both the conception and construction of the University of South Dakota’s reading series, our biennial writers’ conference, and my recent updating/revisioning of South Dakota Review. At the same time, I have sought to broaden aesthetic/ artistic boundaries, to prioritize multicultural inclusiveness (particularly with respect to American Indian writers) and to complicate the conversations surrounding ideas of the “New West/Midwest” in all of my ventures. Having grown up as a second-generation, mixed-race Japanese American in Laramie, Wyoming, these interlocking threads of landscape, place and identity, as well as resisting externally imposed notions about what these identities are or should be, have always been, and continue to remain, very near and dear to my heart. I like to think of the South Dakota Poet Laureateship as being an “ambassador for poetry” throughout the state, and so far, I’ve had the pleasure of being invited to give readings, interviews, book signings and workshops at the South Dakota Festival of the Book, South Dakota Public Radio, the South Dakota State Historical Society, the South Dakota Libraries Association Conference, the Hill City Area Writers’ Workshop, Northern State University, Presentation College, Dakota Wesleyan University, Watertown Arts Night and Madison Area Arts Council, among others. I’ve concurrently been able to represent South Dakota as its Poet Laureate in national reading venues including the Associated Writing Programs Conference (in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.); the Douglas Anderson Writers’ Festival in Jacksonville, Florida; the University of Maine-Orono; Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Nebraska; the Marshall Festival in Marshall, Minnesota; the University of Nebraska-Omaha; the InKY Reading Series in Louisville, Kentucky; and at the Women’s International Studies Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, among others. I’m hoping to continue traveling as extensively as possible throughout the state of South Dakota during my remaining two years, giving readings and conducting workshops. I would particularly love to reach out to underserved communities, young writers/poets and Native American communities. In particular, I’m envisioning a larger project where (ideally, with the collaboration of both local and national Native American poets) I might conduct workshops with young Native American poets, ultimately culminating in a special issue of South Dakota Review devoted to their work. But a lot of the work, too, I feel, involves listening to various communities and doing my best to meet/serve their respective needs in terms of readings, talks, workshops and facilitated literary events. I’m also hoping I might have the opportunity during my remaining time as the South Dakota Poet Laureate to engage in a community-based writing-generative collaboration with interested venues across South Dakota. According to the Japanese poet Matsuo Basho, every day is a journey of fresh discovery, a journey shaped by attentiveness and the random happenstance of chance. For Basho, the process of engaging South Dakota’s Poet Laureate Serves as Ambassador for Poetry Newsletter Fall 2017 D epartment of E nglish continued on page 2 Lee Ann Roripaugh