The Nebraska State Poet is a designation that recognizes and honors a Nebraska poet of exceptional talent and accomplishment. The State Poet serves a five-year renewable term as an advocate for poetry, literacy, and literature in Nebraska. The duties of the State Poet include giving public presentations and readings, leading workshops and discussions, and providing other outreach in schools, libraries, literary festivals, and various venues in rural and urban communities throughout the state. To accomplish this, the State Poet joins with the Nebraska Art Council’s Nebraska Touring Program and the Humanities Nebraska Speakers Bureau. The last poet to hold the position of State Poet was William Kloefkorn, who served for 29 years, until his death in May 2011.
In 2013, Governor Dave Heineman named Twyla M. Hansen as the Nebraska State Poet for the term Dec. 1, 2013 to Nov. 30, 2018. Hansen has five books of poetry, included POTATO SOUP, winner of the 2004 Nebraska Book Award, and her writing has appeared in a variety of publications, including Prairie Schooner, Midwest Quarterly, South Dakota Review, Encyclopedia of the Great Plains, and more. Hansen earned her BS and MA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and was raised in the state on land her grandparents farmed in the late 1800s as immigrants from Denmark.
The Nebraska State Poet is made possible through a partnership between the council, the Nebraska Arts Council, the Nebraska Library Commission and the Governor’s Office.