Showcasing the Arts

2025-26 Kentucky Poet Laureate

Application Deadline: Sept. 30, 2024

The Kentucky Arts Council strongly encourages you to read and understand the Kentucky Poet Laureate guidelines and instructions before accessing the online application.

Like all programs of the Kentucky Arts Council, the Kentucky Poet Laureate Program is guided by the arts council’s core values. Successful nominations will embody these core values, and all nominators are strongly encouraged to read and reflect upon them before submitting a nomination.

Core Values of the Kentucky Arts Council

Program Purpose

The purpose of the Kentucky Poet Laureate Program is to honor outstanding Kentucky writers and promote participation in the literary arts of the state.


  • To select, on a biennial basis, a Kentucky writer to serve as poet laureate for a two-year term
  • To develop activities to honor the poet laureate
  • To support the activities of the poet laureate in promoting the literary arts

Who May be Nominated

Eligible nominees must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a full-time resident of Kentucky, with a long association with the commonwealth
  • Be a published writer of any of the recognized literary forms, including poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, playwriting and screenwriting


Past Kentucky Poets Laureate are ineligible for nomination.

Past Poets Laureate

Joy Bale Boone, Lillie D. Chaffin, Soc Clay, Dale Faughn, James Baker Hall, Edward G. Hill, Silas House, Edwin Carlisle Litsey, George Ella Lyon, Jim Wayne Miller, Senator Tom Mobley, Maureen Morehead, Sena Jeter Naslund, J.T. “Cotton” Noe, Gurney Norman, Agnes O’Rear, James H. Patton Jr., Lee Pennington, Louise Phillips, Henry E. Pilkenton, Paul Salyers, Frederick Smock, James Still, Jesse Hilton Stuart, Joe Survant, Richard Taylor, Jane Gentry Vance, Frank X Walker, Crystal Wilkinson, Jeff Worley, Lowell Allen Williams

Who May Nominate

Kentucky Poet Laureate nominations may come from individuals or organizations within or outside of Kentucky.

Program Description

The Kentucky General Assembly established the Kentucky Poet Laureate position in 1991. The governor appoints the poet laureate for a two-year term. The word poet in the position's title is interpreted in its broadest sense to include people whose accomplishments are in any recognized literary form, including poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, playwriting and screenwriting.

The Kentucky Poet Laureate's minimum duties over the two years of office are:

  • To make a presentation at the Kentucky Arts Council’s annual Kentucky Writers' Day (held on or around April 24)
  • To promote the literary arts in Kentucky through readings of their work at meetings, seminars and conferences and in classrooms and libraries across the state

The Kentucky Poet Laureate holds the position from Jan. 1, 2025, to Dec. 31, 2026, and serves without salary. The Kentucky Poet Laureate receives a $6,000 honorarium to cover travel expenses during the two-year term.

Performance Expectations

Nominations will be assessed using the following performance expectations:

  • Publication of a written body of work that is informed by living in Kentucky
  • Critical acclaim for the work's high degree of creativity and clarity of form and style as demonstrated by the receipt of special honors, awards and other forms of recognition
  • Capacity to promote the literary arts in Kentucky through readings and/or public presentations at meetings, seminars, conferences and other programs across the state, including Kentucky Writers' Day

Program Support

The Kentucky Arts Council will offer the following support to ensure that program standards and goals are met:

  • Consultation regarding nomination eligibility
  • Instructions for completing and submitting a nomination

How to Make a Nomination

Following the deadline, your nomination will be reviewed by the program director, who may contact you if clarification is needed.

Program Timeline

Nomination deadline

Sept. 30, 2024, 11:59 p.m. Eastern

Review of nominations by KAC committee

Oct.-Dec. 2024

Governor's approval of nomination

After KAC committee makes its recommendation

Announcement of Poet Laureate

After Jan. 1, 2025

Poet Laureate Induction Ceremony

April 24, 2025, during the Kentucky Arts Council’s annual Kentucky Writers’ Day event

Nomination Deadline

Nominations must be submitted online no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Sept. 30, 2024.


There are no appeals in this category.

For More Information

The arts council welcomes questions regarding this program and the nomination process.

Register to drop-in on any of seven Zoom Poet Laureate Nomination office hours this summer on Fridays at 10 a.m. Eastern, June 28, July 12 and 26, Aug. 9 and 23 and Sept. 6 and 20:

Once registered, you’ll receive an invitation with a link that will admit you to any of the office hours listed above.

For more information, contact:

Tamara Coffey
Arts Program Branch Manager