California Arts Council

State of California

Carol Muske-Dukes appointed California's Poet Laureate
Governor Schwarzenegger calls USC professor "an accomplished and decorated poet and author"

Published: 11-14-2008

On Thursday, November 13, 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger appointed Carol Muske-Dukes, an accomplished writer and professor at the University of Southern California, the Poet Laureate for the state of California.

From the Governor's Press Release:

Continuing his support of California's rich literary tradition, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today (Thursday, November 13) appointed Carol Muske-Dukes California's poet laureate. The poet laureate is charged with educating Californians about the many literary icons who have come from California and added to its cultural heritage. She is also charged with encouraging a new generation of poets to take up the mantle of creative expression and bringing poetry to students who otherwise would have little opportunity to be exposed to it.

"Carol Muske-Dukes is an accomplished and decorated poet and author. Her commitment to the literary arts and passionate belief that poetry can transform lives will serve as an inspiration for all Californians," Governor Schwarzenegger said.

Muske-Dukes has been a professor of English at the University of Southern California (USC) since 1993, where she founded the graduate program in literature and creative writing in 1999 and served as director of the program until 2002. She previously served as associate professor from 1991 to 1993, assistant professor from 1989 to 1991 and lecturer from 1984 to 1988 at USC. From 1972 to 1974, Muske-Dukes founded and taught in a creative writing program called "Free Space" at the Women's House of Detention on Riker's Island in New York which later became "Art Without Walls-Free Space." She is a regular critic for the New York Times Book Review and the LA Times Book Review. Muske-Dukes previously served as a poetry columnist for the LA Times Book Review from 2001 to 2004.

Muske-Dukes is the author of seven books of poetry, including her most recent work, Sparrow, which was a National Book Award finalist and An Octave Above Thunder, which was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She has also written four novels, including Los Angeles Times best-seller Channeling Mark Twain and two collections of essays. Her collection Married to the Icepick Killer: A Poet in Hollywood was listed in the San Francisco Chronicle's Top 100 Books of 2002.

In addition to her teaching positions and numerous books, Muske-Dukes has also been anthologized widely, including credits in Best American Poems, 100 Great Poems by Women, MotherSongs and others. Her list of awards and accomplishments includes a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Grant, the Ingram-Merrill Fellowship, the Witter Bynner Award from the Library of Congress, the Castagnola Award from the Poetry Society of America, five Pushcart Prizes and the WriteGirl Bold Ink Award.

"I am truly honored to be named California's poet laureate and I look forward to serving the people of California and poetry which reaches the hearts and imagination of young and old in both urban and remote areas of this diverse and dynamic state," said Muske-Dukes.

The California Arts Council administers the nomination process for the California Poet Laureate as established by law, and assists the California Poet Laureate in fulfilling her or his duties. For more details on Muske-Dukes, see the full press release from the Governor's office, Muske-Dukes' website, and Muske-Dukes' biography page from USC. For more information on California Poets Laureate, see the Poet Laureate informational pages from the California Arts Council.

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