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Missouri’s new Poet Laureate is Maryfrances Wagner of Independence

ST. LOUIS – Maryfrances Wagner, a poet, teacher and community leader from Independence, Mo., has been named as Missouri’s sixth Poet Laureate, for 2021-2023.

Wagner has published nine books of her poems, most recently “The Immigrants’ New Camera” (2018). Her works have appeared in dozens of magazines and anthologies. She has co-edited several poetry anthologies and the New Letters Review of Books, and she has co-edited I-70 Review magazine since 2010.

Gov. Mike Parson appointed Wagner on Thursday to the post of poet laureate. The Missouri Poet Laureate’s role is to promote poetry in the state.

“I’d like to find ways to reach out to people who don’t usually read poetry or even think they like it,” Wagner said in a press release.

Parson picked Wagner from among public nominations screened by the four living previous poets laureate: Karen Craigo, Aliki Barnstone (2016-19), William Trowbridge (2012-16) and Walter Bargen (2008-10). (David Clewell, the second laureate, 2010-12, died in February 2020.)

The Missouri Arts Council coordinates the nominations for laureate, as part of its mission to engage people in meaningful arts experiences, grow the state’s economy using the arts and strengthen education through the arts. It provides support to nonprofit organizations through grants to be used for those goals. The agency was established in 1965.

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