Jack Bedell Appointed 2017-19 Louisiana Poet Laureate

Jack Bedell

Louisiana has a new poet laureate. Upon review of recommendations from a panel formed by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, Governor John Bel Edwards selected Dr. Jack Bedell of Hammond to serve as poet laureate from 2017 to 2019. Bedell replaces outgoing poet laureate Dr. Peter Cooley.

Dr. Bedell is a Professor of English at Southeastern Louisiana University and the author of nine books, including Call and Response (with Darrell Bourque, 2010), Come Rain, Come Shine (2006), What Passes for Love (2001), Bone-Hollow, True: New & Selected Poems (2013), Elliptic (2016), and Revenant (2016). As editor of Southeastern’s literary magazine Louisiana Literature since 1992, he has published numerous Louisiana poets. Dr. Bedell has taught creative writing to students of all ages, from the third-grade level to the graduate level over the last 30 years. Intimate and personable, his work reflects a familiarity with Louisiana life and its people. In addition, he has worked with the LEH’s award-winning PRIME TIME Family Literacy Program as a storyteller and continues to promote the writing of his fellow Louisianans.

“Jack Bedell’s love for Louisiana is evident in his work, and I’m confident that he will serve honorably as the state’s poet laureate,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “I want to thank the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities for leading this search, and I congratulate all of the nominees whose writings capture the heart of the people and places that make our state a unique and wonderful place to call home.”

According to selection guidelines, nominees must have published works in books, anthologies, literary journals or magazines. In addition, the selection committee seeks information from the general public and the literary community. The committee is charged with selecting nominees who reflect the diverse cultures and heritage of Louisiana.

The panel chosen to nominate individuals to the governor included LEH President/Executive Director Miranda Restovic; Prof. John Biguenet, Loyola University; Darrell Bourque, PhD, former poet laureate and professor at University of Louisiana at Lafayette; Brenda Marie Osbey, former poet laureate and professor at Brown University; Prof. Jack Heflin, University of Louisiana at Monroe; Sarah DeBacher, Vice President of Education at the LEH; and Mary Katherine Callaway, Director, LSU Press.

The LEH will provide grants to non-profit organizations in Louisiana that wish to host the poet laureate for poetry readings, discussion or presentations. For additional information, contact Christopher Robert at 504-620-2639 or robert@leh.org.