Missouri

In 2008, Missouri established a state poet laureate position, which is currently held by Aliki Barnstone, who was appointed to a two-year term in 2016. Barnstone is the author of three chapbooks and eight poetry collections, including Dwelling (Sheep Meadow Press, 2016).

In 2018, Shirley Bradley Price LeFlore was named poet laureate of St. Louis, Missouri. LeFlore will serve a two-year term.

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Missouri poet laureaute
Aliki Barnstone

Aliki Barnstone is the author of three chapbooks and eight poetry collections, including Dwelling (Sheep Meadow Press, 2016) and Bright Body (White Pine Press, 2011). She has received multiple awards and fellowships, including a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Literature Fellowship in Poetry. A professor of English and creative writing at University of Missouri, Barnstone is state poet laureate of Missouri.

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Earth Tremors Felt in Missouri

The quake last night was nothing personal, 
you told me this morning. I think one always wonders, 
unless, of course, something is visible: tremors 
that take us, private and willy-nilly, are usual.

But the earth said last night that what I feel, 
you feel; what secretly moves you, moves me. 
One small, sensuous catastrophe 
makes inklings letters, spelled in a worldly tremble.

The earth, with others on it, turns in its course 
as we turn toward each other, less than ourselves, gross, 
mindless, more than we were. Pebbles, we swell 
to planets, nearing the universal roll, 
in our conceit even comprehending the sun, 
whose bright ordeal leaves cool men woebegone.

The Moon in Time Lapse

The moon in time lapse sliding over skyline
the way a remote frisbee might wheel through air
as slowly as a banjo once floated across the wide
Missouri River in my mind when as a boy
the devil to pay permitted me to dream-up
my get-away from home, far from my parents'
witchy vigilance & the wine-barrel cellars
of their household—this after my experimental
stuffing of a dinner fork into a light socket
in the green gazebo under backyard grapevines.
That fuse box blown & blackened was the bliss
of departure—it was thrilling, but sometimes
I have to stop to touch my life & see if it's real.
How surprising to find that I wanted so much,
and mostly got it. My fantasies are fewer now
(one involves living through a day without
resentments, the other getting seated next to
gorgeous Fanny Ardant on a puddle jumper).
No need to see my life as a story the world
has to read, no need for sentimental
mooning & nostalgia—blessed with a bit
of amnesia anyway, I don't recall much
of what went down. I know that it's engraved
there on some cellular level, & that I can't
command the consequences. Like a spider
who has climbed atop a survey stake in a bull-
dozed field, I feel slightly truer in any case.