Karla Huston Named 2017-18 Wisconsin Poet Laureate

The Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission has selected Karla Huston of Appleton as the Wisconsin Poet Laureate for 2017–18. The commission praised Huston for her longstanding devotion to poetry, and a large body of work acclaimed for its elegance, imagination, humor, and scope, ranging from Greek myths to Hollywood stars. Huston fills the position vacated by Kimberly Blaeser, the sixth Wisconsin Poet Laureate.

“Karla Huston has that rare ability to tackle just about any issue—large or small—and plumb its meaning for us, telling us why we should care,” says Ronnie Hess, the incoming chair of the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission. “Her words are lustrous and luminous, fairly gliding off the page while also carrying a powerful, unforgettable punch.”

Speaking about her selection as Wisconsin Poet Laureate, Huston says, “[it’s] a tremendous honor to bring my love of poetry to the residents of the state. I am looking forward to getting out there, to meeting people and to implementing my Memory Café plan.”

Beyond giving readings at festivals, conferences and other events, Huston plans to nurture the growth of poetry-reading and poetry-writing among Wisconsin’s elderly and memory-impaired, as part of the Memory Café movement, which is associated with the Alzheimer’s & Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin.

Huston is the author of eight poetry chapbooks, the latest Grief Bone, (Five Oaks Press), and a full collection, A Theory of Lipstick (Main Street Rag Publications). Huston has garnered many awards, including a Pushcart Prize for her poem, “A Theory of Lipstick.” She received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association for her collection of the same title.

A lifelong resident of the state, Huston is a graduate of West Salem High School. She has earned two degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (BS-Education, MA-English, Creative Writing). She started writing poetry when she began teaching creative writing in the mid-‘90s at Neenah High School where she worked for 15 years.

Huston is active in the Wisconsin writing community. She has served on the board of directors for Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets as well as the Fox Valley Writing project. Currently she is active on the board of the Council for Wisconsin Writers. In addition, Huston serves as vice president, membership coordinator, and teaching staff at The Mill: A Place for Writers. For several years she has contributed to the Fox Cities Book Festival helping to create poetry events during the festival.

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