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Michigan


Lyric Poetry Mural, Lyric Poetry (detail), by Henry O. Walker, in the South Corridor, Jefferson Building, Library of Congress.
Photographic print.
[c.1899]

Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.
Library of Congress.

Position History:
Position does not currently exist. Edgar A. Guest was the first and only Michigan Poet Laureate, a title he held from 1952 until his death in 1959. Guest was appointed Poet Laureate through Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 38 (1952) of the Michigan Legislature. The text of the resolution follows:

A concurrent resolution designating Edgar A. Guest the Poet Laureate of the state of Michigan. Whereas, Thousands of people in the State of Michigan throughout the years have looked to the poems of Edgar A. Guest for moral support in times of stress and have enjoyed his subtle humor and homespun philosophy; and Whereas, The poems of Edgar A. Guest have depicted the daily lives of the people of the state of Michigan, and have reflected the American principles on which the United States of America is founded, now therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That the members of the Michigan Legislature, convened in the Regular Session of 1952, are proud to bestow on Edgar A. Guest the title of Poet Laureate of the state of Michigan, with the knowledge that Edgar A. Guest at all times will truly reflect in his poems that people of the state of Michigan in their daily lives; and be it further Resolved that a suitable copy of this resolution be transmitted to Edgar A. Guest. The concurrent resolution was considered and adopted.

(Journal of the Senate of the State of Michigan, Regular Session of 1952, v. 1, March 25, p. 788.)

Will Carleton (1845–1912) is sometimes referred to as the first Poet Laureate of Michigan. As Jerome A. Fallon writes in his biography of Carleton (Will Carleton: Poet of the People, Philadelphia: Xlibris, c2004, p. 250)

Before his triumphal year of 1871 had ended, Will was being referred to by the titles which would identify him for the rest of his life and career: "The Poet of Michigan," later amended to "The Poet Laureate of Michigan," and "The Farmer's Poet."

The Library of Congress has not been able to locate a bill or resolution naming Will Carleton Michigan's Poet Laureate. It appears that he held an honorary, unofficial position as Michigan's Poet Laureate based on his widespread popularity, not on legislation created to honor him as such.

In 2005 the Michigan Legislature considered Senate Bill 0181, which would have established a position of Michigan State Poet Laureate. The bill was passed by the Senate on December 13, 2005, but did not emerge from the House.

Further Resources:
Merk, George P. "Edgar A. Guest: Poet of the People." Michigan Magazine (March/April 2004): 38-49.

 

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  July 29, 2011
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