Wisconsin Poet Laureate              2015-16

Wisconsin Poet Laureate

Kimberly Blaeser, writer, photographer, and scholar, served as Wisconsin Poet Laureate for 2015-16. She is the author of five poetry collections—most recently the bi-lingual Résister en dansant/Ikwe-niimi: Dancing Resistance (2020), Copper Yearning (2019), and Apprenticed to Justice. Blaeser edited the anthology Traces in Blood, Bone, and Stone: Contemporary Ojibwe Poetry, and her scholarly study, Gerald Vizenor: Writing in the Oral Tradition, was the first native-authored book-length study of an Indigenous author. A Professor of English and Indigenous Studies at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee and MFA faculty for the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, Blaeser is Founding Director of the literary organization In-Na-Po—Indigenous Nations Poets. In 2021, she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas.

Blaeser’s writing has been included in more than 100 anthologies, and selections of her poetry translated into several languages including Spanish, French, Norwegian, Indonesian, Chinese, Hungarian, Armenian, and Anishinaabemowin. She has performed her work at over 350 different in person and virtual venues around the globe from arctic Norway to the Kingdom of Bahrain. Her photographs, picto-poems, and ekphrastic poetry have been featured in various venues including the exhibits “Ancient Light” and “Visualizing Sovereignty.”

An Indigenous activist and environmentalist who grew up on White Earth Reservation, Blaeser is an enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. She is a member of the Poetry Coaltion of the Academy of American Poets, an editorial board member for the “American Indian Lives” series of the University of Nebraska Press and for the “Native American Series” of Michigan State University Press, and serves on the boards of directors for the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters, the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission, and the Aldo Leopold Foundation. Blaeser was named a 2020 Fellow by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters, and has received both a Distinguished Public Service Award and an Outstanding Woman of Color Award from the University of Wisconsin. She has been the recipient of literary awards and fellowships including a Woodland Indian Arts Initiative Grant, an Individual Artist Fellowship in Poetry from the Wisconsin Arts Board, and a Drama of the Year Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas for her play The Museum at Red Earth. Her book Copper Yearning won the Edna Meudt Poetry Book Award from the Council of Wisconsin Writers and was named one of the best Native Books in 2019 by the Tribal College Journal. Her short story “Vision Confidence Score” received the Zona Gale Short Fiction Award and honorable mention in the Rick Demarinis Short Story Contest. Her poetry collection Ancient Light was named a finalist in the Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry from Milkweed Editions. Blaeser lives in the woods and wetlands of Lyons Township, Wisconsin and for portions of each year, in a water-access cabin near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota chasing poems, photos, and river otters—sometimes all at once.