On Air
0:00
0:00
Open In Popup
MPR News

Robert Bly is named Minnesota's first poet laureate

Share story

Robert Bly
Noted Minnesota poet Robert Bly has been named the state's first poet laureate by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Submitted photo

(AP) - Gov. Tim Pawlenty named Robert Bly as the state's first poet laureate Wednesday, calling him a "a Minnesota treasure."

      Bly, 81, of Minneapolis, has authored more than 30 books of poetry, though he's best known for his 1990 prose best seller, "Iron John: A Book About Men."

He also translated Henrik Ibsen's classic play "Peer Gynt," showing at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis through this weekend.

"Just to stay alive, I guess, is about it."

      "His many works, impressive 40-year career, and national renown will help promote poetry in Minnesota," the governor said in a statement.

      According to the governor's office, Minnesota's poet laureate "may promote the reading and writing of poetry, preside over poetry awards and contests, and write poetry or select poets to compose works for significant state occasions."

      Bly said in an interview he had no particular plans for what he would do with his position. 

"Just to stay alive, I guess, is about it," he said. 

Bly also said he may do an anthology of Minnesota poets, though he didn't think that was part of the job.

      The Legislature created the honorary position last year. Pawlenty vetoed a bill to establish it in 2005, but lawmakers tucked the provision into a broader bill last session, making it tough for the GOP governor to block it again.

      At least five other Minnesotans have claimed the title unofficially. Margaret Ball Dickson received it from the national Poet Laureate League in 1934. Gov. Floyd B. Olson recognized her title in a congratulatory letter. Laurene Tibbetts-Larson was picked by readers of the Minneapolis Star in 1973.       

             (Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)