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Catherine Pierce

Poet Laureate of Mississippi, 2021-2025

Catherine Pierce was born in Delaware. She received a BA from Susquehanna University in 2000, an MFA from Ohio State University in 2003, and a PhD from the University of Missouri in 2007.

She is the author of Danger Days (Saturnalia, 2020); The Tornado Is the World (Saturnalia, 2016); The Girls of Peculiar (Saturnalia, 2012), which won the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Prize; and Famous Last Words (Saturnalia, 2008), winner of the Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize.

She is the recipient of a 2019 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Of her work, Aimee Nezhukumatathil writes, “With a jeweler’s eye and an uncanny knack for embracing devastating truths and desires, Pierce rewrites what it means to sift through wreckage of both heart and land.”

Pierce writes Poetry Break, a monthly newspaper column for the “Mississippi Books” page of the Clarion-Ledger and Hattiesburg American, and hosts the Mississippi Poetry podcast. The co-director of the creative writing program at Mississippi State University, Pierce was appointed the poet laureate of Mississippi in 2021. In 2022, Pierce received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship


Danger Days (Saturnalia, 2020)
The Tornado Is the World (Saturnalia, 2016)
The Girls of Peculiar (Saturnalia, 2012)
Famous Last Words (Saturnalia, 2008)

Catherine Pierce
Photo credit: Megan Bean
Poet Laureate Project
Laureate Project
Poet Laureate of Mississippi

Poet Laureate of Mississippi

In 2022, Catherine Pierce was named an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow. Pierce’s project, The Mississippi Young Writers Poetry Festival, will be a day-long celebration of poetry that will serve as the culmination of a statewide poetry-writing initiative. In collaboration with the Mississippi Center for the Book, Pierce will distribute a poem prompt to all K–12 schools across the state, along with resources to help teachers incorporate the prompt into classes. Schools will select poems from each grade and submit them to a panel of Mississippi poets, who will select statewide winners. All school-level winners will be invited to the Mississippi Young Writers Poetry Festival, which will include a reading by the winners, writing workshops for different ages, a keynote by a poet, and an anthology, given to each attendee, featuring the work of student writers.