IUPUI Professor Named State's Poet Laureate
IUPUI Professor Karen Kovacik View print-quality image
May 9, 2011
- Diane Brown
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The Indiana Arts Commission (IAC) recently announced the selection of IUPUI Professor Karen Kovacik as the Indiana State Poet Laureate. Kovacik, who teaches English and creative writing in the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, will serve a two-year-term beginning January 2012.
“This extraordinary accomplishment and distinction recognizes the prominence of Dr. Kovacik not only as a superb poet herself but as a representative of the creative field of poetry,” said William Blomquist, dean of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. “Her service as Indiana’s poet laureate includes reaching out around the state to promote and encourage this art form which adds so much to civilization and culture in Indiana and throughout the world. We are extremely proud to be Dr. Kovacik’s colleagues, and delighted for her as she receives this prestigious honor.”
During her tenure as poet laureate, Kovacik plans to write a literary blog on Hoosier writers, create a downloadable poetry-teaching toolkit for the Indiana Humanities Council, and sponsor events at schools and libraries throughout the state. “As a native Hoosier, I bristle at the notion, fostered by some, that our state is an uncultured backwater,” Kovacik said. “So many fine poets and writers live here, and I want everyone to know that.”
Kovacik also plans to bring together poets from around the state. “We often hear about ‘academic’ poetry versus spoken word or slam poetry. But I don’t believe in a town-gown divide,” the professor said. “I want to break down barriers and get diverse groups of poets talking together.”
Kovacik is director of the creative writing program and adjunct professor of women’s studies at IUPUI. Her poem “Invisible Movements” is featured in the “Moving Forward” public art project, a series of three custom-designed eco-friendly bus shelters that showcase original poetry by published writers along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. The shelters are located on the south side of Virginia Avenue near Lexington Street, McCarty Street and Woodlawn Avenue along IndyGo bus routes 12, 14 and 22.
In addition to the “Moving Forward” recognition, Kovacik’s numerous awards also include the 2011 and 2007 Trustees’ Teaching Award; the 2006 Best Book of Indiana Award for Metropolis Burning; the 2007 Charity Randall Citation from the International Poetry Forum; and a Fulbright Research Grant to Poland.
Increasing the awareness of poetry and the power of the written and spoken word was the inspiration behind legislation signed into law in 2005 by Governor Mitch Daniels. The legislation provides for the development of specific educational programming coordinated between the Indiana Arts Commission, the Indiana Department of Education, and the State Poet Laureate. The executive director of the Indiana Arts Commission, along with seven members chosen by the commission who represent state supported and private institutions of higher education, select the Indiana State Poet Laureate.