The Indiana Arts Commission announced today that Curtis L. Crisler has been named the Indiana Poet Laureate. Crisler is the eighth Hoosier named to this honorary position and succeeds Matthew Graham, who has held the role since 2020.
Crisler was chosen by a selection committee that included seven representatives of Indiana’s colleges and universities as well as the Indiana Arts Commission Executive Director.
Crisler was born and raised in Gary, Indiana. He received a BA in English, with a minor in Theatre, from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, now Purdue Fort Wayne, and he received his MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. An award-winning poet and author, Crisler’s Doing Drive-Bys on How to Love in the Midwest won the C&R Press Award for poetry. He has published numerous other poetry books, young adult books, poetry chapbooks, been anthologized in many publications, and published in a variety of magazines and journals.
Crisler’s awarded fellowships and residencies come from the City of Asylum/Pittsburgh, Cave Canem, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Soul Mountain, Hamline University, Words on the Go, and Writer-in-Residence sponsored by Poets & Writers, INC. Crisler’s awarded grants and awards come from a Library Scholars Grant Award, a RHINO Founder’s Award, Indiana Arts Commission Grants, Eric Hoffer Awards, the Sterling Plumpp First Voices Poetry Award, and he was nominated for the Eliot Rosewater Award and a Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Award.
He is Professor of English at Purdue University Fort Wayne.
“I am so honored to be Indiana's Poet Laureate. I am taken aback,” shared Crisler when asked about his appointment as Indiana Poet Laureate. “I must thank Marsi Lawson for all of this. It is not a position the young Curtis that grew up in Gary, Indiana, would have ever seen for himself. With that said, I want to share and bridge and discover what I know and do not know about the entire Hoosier state, using poetry and my Indiana Chitlin Circuit (ICC) to celebrate community. Much more to come!”
Established in 2005, the Poet Laureate program is meant to bring poetry to every corner of the state. As Poet Laureate, Crisler will make appearances at schools and libraries, offer guidance to the Indiana Arts Commission concerning ways to further the art of poetry in Indiana, and represent Indiana and the art of poetry to the community and public.
“We are thrilled to welcome Curtis Crisler as Indiana’s next Poet Laureate,” said Miah Michaelsen, Executive Director of the Indiana Arts Commission. “His vision for expanding access to poetry for Hoosiers resonated with the selection committee and we look forward to what he will achieve during his tenure. Curtis is a wonderful representative of the Hoosier state and the literary talent in Indiana.”