Melissa Kwasny is the author of six books of poetry, including Where Outside the Body is the Soul Today (University of Washington Press, 2017), Pictograph (Milkweed Editions, 2015), and The Nine Sense (Milkweed Editions, 2009), as well as a collection of essays Earth Recitals: Essays on Image and Vision (Lynx House Press, 2013). The recipient of Poetry Society of America’s Cecil Hemley and Alice Fay di Castognola awards, she is also the editor of Toward the Open Field: Poets on the Art of Poetry 1800-1950 (Wesleyan University Press, 2004) and co-editor, with M.L. Smoker of I Go to the Ruined Place: Contemporary Poets in Defense of Global Human Rights (Lost Horse Press, 2009). She currently shares the position of Montana Poet Laureate with M.L. Smoker. In 2021, Kwasny and Smoker were named Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellows.
In 2021, Melissa Kwasny was named an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow. Kwasny, alongside M. L. Smoker, will partner with seven Montana art and historical museums, selecting individual works, writing ekphrastic poems in response, and holding workshops on site at the museums for area youth to learn to write their own ekphrastic poems. The project, which builds on the success of a previous collaboration with the Missoula Art Museum, will culminate in a webinar on ekphrastic poetry through the museums’ websites and Humanities Montana’s Speakers in the Schools program.