In May 2017, I was named Utah's poet laureate. For the length of my four-year term, I will be working on a website that "maps" literary Utah. The site, "Mapping Literary Utah," will contain poems and prose excerpts by writers that reside or have resided in Utah. Similar to my project Mapping Salt Lake City, these literary works will be tagged on a map of Utah that a site visitor can peruse, allowing her to imagine the evolving relationship between writing and place.
While the bulk of the map will focus on conventionally published works, I would also like to include any oral histories and poems from First Nation tribes that might not have been widely disseminated. I will also expand our ideas about how place intersects with writing by focusing on the literary works that Japanese Americans interned at Topaz produced about their internment experience. Finally, I would like to include writers and poets that reflect the state's many ethnic, religious, and racial communities that have shaped Utah's cultural life. I am especially eager to hear from people in the community who know of archives or of writers that might otherwise be overlooked: any and all help is appreciated.
For the 2018-19 year, I will also be at work on a poem about the transcontinental railroad commissioned by the Utah Arts Council and the Spike 150 committee. This book-length poem will be debuted for the 150th celebration of the transcontinental railroad's completion. I am taking oral histories from the descendants of the original Chinese, Japanese, Mormon, and Irish railroad workers, as well as interviews with descendants of the Navajo, Pawnee, Cheyenne and Sioux that either worked for or against the transcontinental's development. Please contact me if you would like to be interviewed.
If you are a Utah school, program, or arts institute interested in having me come and speak, please contact the Utah Arts Council here.