M. L. Smoker

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Poet Laureate of Montana, 2019-2021

M. L. Smoker is a member of the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana. She holds an MFA from the University of Montana in Missoula, where she was the recipient of the Richard Hugo Fellowship.

Smoker’s first collection of poems, Another Attempt at Rescue, was published by Hanging Loose Press in 2005. In 2009, she coedited an anthology of human rights poetry with Melissa Kwasny titled, I Go to the Ruined Place: Contemporary Poems in Defense of Global Human Rights (Lost Horse Press, 2011).

Smoker has received a regional Emmy award for her work as a writer and consultant on the 2013 PBS documentary Indian Relay. She served as the director of Indian education for the state of Montana for almost ten years. In 2015, she was named the Indian Educator of the Year by the National Indian Education Association and was appointed to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education by President Barack Obama. She currently works at Education Northwest as a practice expert in Indian education.

Smoker served as co-poet laureate for the state of Montana, alongside Melissa Kwasny. In 2021, Smoker and Kwasny were named Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellows.