Purpose Statement 

Poetry transcends boundaries, provoking thought, dialogue, and understanding.  

Representing the many rich cultures of our state, the State Poet Laureate of New Mexico program will support literacy and enhance education while promoting personal growth and arts enrichment to every part of the state. 

The State Poet Laureate will explore, create, share, and engage. 

Their tenure is a journey, on which we are all along for the ride.  


  • Enrich the Lives of New Mexicans
  • Make poetry a regular part of library programming and school curricula
  • Encourage poets to engage with other cultures and other poets
  • Support the creation of new poetry
  • Create a regular anthology representing the diversity of the state
  • Celebrate and increase visibility of poetry, arts, and culture throughout the state
  • Develop new partnerships in the arts across media



  • Engage with poets and cultures statewide
  • Document through online journal, podcast, newspaper article or similar, the journey, the lessons learned, and the personal growth


  • Write and publish original poetry
  • Collaborate with a variety of arts across media 


  • Collect poetries from around the State for sharing online, at readings, and for inclusion in an anthology of NM poetry 

Readings and Engagement

  • At official events provide a suitable reading to enhance, create a sense of ritual, and set the stage for things to come
  • Deliver readings around the state, seeking to visit every county
  • Host interactive workshops and events around the state, which may include readings, Poetry Out Loud workshops, poetry slams, teen library programs, and other programs that will promote and inspire poetry
  • Engage with schools and libraries to support literacy and arts education, which may include serving on Poetry Out Loud workshops, assisting with the Youth Poet Laureate program, joint readings with the Youth Poet Laureate, and serving as a juror for statewide writing awards

Suggested Timeline of Activities

  • Year 1: The first year is intended to give the newly selected Poet Laureate space and time to explore, collect, and reflect.   Activities may include:
    • Travelling to meet a variety of poets and explore New Mexico geographies
    • Compiling a variety of poetry from New Mexicans and about New Mexico 
    • Creating new poetry informed and/or inspired by exploration
    • Curating an anthology manuscript
    • Publishing a web journal, newspaper column, audio podcast, or similar documentation for the public  of these explorations
    • Participating in Poetry Out Loud State Finals
    • Assistance with the Youth Poet Laureate program
  • Year 2: The second year is intended to give the Poet Laureate an opportunity to publish an anthology of New Mexico poetry and increasingly engage with the public directly.  Activities may include:
    • Poetry readings and other poetry events at libraries around the State
    • Poetry readings at bookmobile stops in rural areas statewide 
    • Workshops held in coordination with the Poetry Out Loud program, and a recital at the Poetry Out Loud State Finals 
    • Distribution of original poetry in various formats and media
    • Collaborations with visual artists, musicians, etc. 
    • Assistance with the Youth Poet Laureate program
  • Year 3: In the third year the Poet Laureate focuses on collaboration, highlighting other poets and their poetry, and readings from the NM Anthology.  Activities may include:
    • Poetry readings around the state by the Poet Laureate, along with local poets featured in the anthology
    • Workshops held in coordination with the Poetry Out Loud program, and a recital at the Poetry Out Loud State Finals 
    • Assistance with the Youth Poet Laureate program
    • Culminating events highlighting collaborations with other poets and other artists



Nominations of poets representing the rich variety of cultures, geographies, and types of poetry is strongly encouraged.  

Personal Qualities

Priority is given to poets that demonstrate:

  • Commitment to and understanding of the Poet Laureate Program and its objectives
  • An ability to engage openly, honestly, and sincerely with a wide range of people
  • An eagerness to represent New Mexico in its entirety
  • Commitment to bringing poetry to a wide range of places and people
  • Passion for poetry and is able to communicate it


Individuals must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be at least 21 years of age at the time of nomination
  • Agree to the conditions and terms of appointment
  • Be able to agree on and enter into a contract with the Department of Cultural Affairs
  • May not be a previous State Poet Laureate
  • Submit to a background check


  • Have been a NM resident for at least three years
  • Be able to obtain a NM CRS number
  • Be able to be a resident for the term of the appointment
  • Be a current NM resident, or have made a significant contribution to New Mexico poetry

Published Work and Engagement

  • Have a compelling portfolio of published work
  • Demonstrate an established history of activity in New Mexico, eg. readings, publications, public presentations, etc.
  • Provide evidence of achievement in the art of poetry, including having a body of publicly accessible work (books, literary magazines, and/or digital media)
  • Is widely considered to be a poet of stature
  • Have received significant recognition or awards.
  • Poets of all subgenres (e.g., prose, slam poetry, cowboy poetry) and styles will be considered.


  • Demonstrate a willingness to interact with a diverse public
  • Demonstrate an ability and willingness to travel
  • Be able to appropriately represent the poetry and arts community at state functions and ceremonies, being respectful of other cultures, backgrounds, and beliefs
  • Must be prepared to undertake the public role required of the laureate
  • Capacity to foster public appreciation of and participation in poetry through readings, public presentations and teaching in diverse communities

Selection of Committee Members 

Committee members are selected by the Department of Cultural Affairs to represent a variety of geographies, poetics, and cultures.  The Selection Committee may include past Poet Laureates. Members should be able to attend Committee meetings. Committee members should reveal and seek to avoid any Conflicts of Interest.  

Role of the Committee

The Selection Committee is provided a copy of the Program Guidelines.  Members are tasked with selecting a Poet Laureate that can fulfill the responsibilities per the guidelines.  Special emphasis is placed on priority areas. The NM Arts Director will chair the meeting or delegate this role to another DCA employee.  The Chair will not be a voting member of the Committee.  

Nomination Process

Any New Mexico resident can nominate a Poet Laureate.  A poet may not self-nominate, however they may provide the nominator with required documentation. 

Required Documentation to Be Submitted with the Nomination 

Submission of the following documentation is required for all nominated poets: 

  • Letter of interest including a description of your interest in the position and a brief statement of the special initiative you propose undertaking (one page maximum in .doc or .pdf file format)
  • Biographical information (one page maximum in .doc or .pdf file format)
  • Resume or curriculum vitae  (three pages maximum in .doc or .pdf file format) with bibliography of published works (two pages maximum in .doc or .pdf file format)
  • Previous awards and/or recognitions (one page maximum in .doc or .pdf file format)
  • Samples of original poetry. (Five poems max. within a seven-page limit in .doc or .pdf file format)
  • Audio or video samples of you reading your work. Submit MP3 audio files or provide links to websites (e.g., a personal website, YouTube, Vimeo, etc.)
  • Additionally up to three letters of support.


A short list of up to five candidates will be interviewed by the Selection Committee in person.   Any necessary travel will be reimbursed per State rules.  

The first year the short list will be selected by NM Arts and the NM State Library; in subsequent years, the current Poet Laureate will assist in creating a shortlist.  

Terms of Service 

The initial Poet Laureate will serve from appointment to the third end-of-fiscal-year from that date. Subsequent Poet Laureates shall serve a three year term, running July 1 to June 30.  Individuals shall not serve back-to-back terms. If a Poet Laureate cannot fulfill the contract for any circumstances, the Selection Committee will be asked to identify a replacement to fill the remainder of the term, with the option to extend to another full term at the Committee’s discretion, and contingent on approval of the Department of Cultural Affairs.  


Poet Laureate is paid $25,000 per year.  The Poet Laureate shall receive a quarterly payment of $6250 upon completion of adequate documentation of activities as contracted.  Pre-approved travel costs, not to exceed an average of $1000 per month, will be reimbursed.  

Copyright and Licenses 

The Poet Laureate will reserve every right available in common law and under the Federal Copyright Act.  The New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs requests copyright license in perpetuity to publish and distribute written works and audio created as part of the Poet Laureate’s agreement, including advertising, media, brochures, podcasts, online journals, etc.  

Abandonment of or Removal From Post

The Poet Laureate shall provide at least 60 days notice of abandonment of the post to NM Arts.  Documentation for any work completed shall be submitted to NM Arts for final payment.  

Per the Terms of the Contract between the Poet Laureate and NM Arts, the Poet Laureate may be removed within 60 days notice.  

The Selection Committee may be convened to consider any recommendations to remove the Poet Laureate from their post.  By majority vote the Selection Committee shall instruct the Department of Cultural Affairs to submit a removal letter to the poet, make payments on any work already done, and re-open the selection process for a new Poet Laureate and new term.