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New terms set for South Dakota Poet Laureate | South Dakota History

Headline from the July 2, 2015 edition of the Argus Leader
Argus Leader
Headline from the July 2, 2015 edition of the Argus Leader

On March 13, 2015, the Governor signed Senate Bill 86 into law setting the term of the South Dakota Poet Laureate to 4 Years.

The state statute that creates the position of poet laureate of South Dakota says… The Governor shall appoint the poet laureate to serve at the pleasure of the Governor. No person is eligible for the appointment unless the person is a resident of this state. No person may be appointed unless such person has been recommended to the Governor by the South Dakota State Poetry Society and has written and published poems of recognized merit prior to the appointment.

When this position was created in 1937, Badger Clark was named the state’s first poet laureate. And the designation was a lifetime appointment. The lifetime status continued for nearly 80 years until 2014. That is when David Allan Evans, having served as poet laureate for 12 years, resigned from the position and encouraged a change in terms so that others could have an opportunity.

The state statute was amended in the next legislative session and now reads… The term of the poet laureate is four years and begins July first in years following a gubernatorial election. No poet laureate may serve for more than one term consecutively. Poet laureates shall for life have the status of emeritus.

Today, the duties of the South Dakota Poet Laureate may include giving readings and lectures, conducting workshops, attending book festivals, and also participating in related literary events in South Dakota and elsewhere.

And on March 13, 2015, the term of service for South Dakota’s Poet Laureate was changed from a lifetime appointment to a single four-year designation.

Production help is provided by Doctor Brad Tennant, Professor of History at Presentation College.