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Michigan Poet Laureate

Poet Laureate Nandi Comer Hero image
Library Of Michigan

Michigan Poet Laureate

MICHIGAN.GOV/POETLAUREATE

Nandi Comer Poet Laureate

Michigan Poet Laureate

The Library of Michigan is pleased to announce Michigan poet Nandi Comer as the Michigan Poet Laureate.

To learn more about the announcement, please read the press release available on the Michigan Department of Education website:

Award-Winning Poet Named Michigan’s Poet Laureate

Discover more about Nandi Comer through her video conversation with Michigan Collection/Reference Librarian Mindy Babarskis: https://youtu.be/uxxf7Q23oRc

Biography

Raised in Detroit and a graduate of Communications and Media Arts High School in Detroit, Comer received bachelor’s degrees in English and in Spanish with an emphasis on Latin American Culture from the University of Michigan. She has received fellowships from Cave Canem, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, Callaloo, and a translation fellowship by U.S. Poets in Mexico.  

Comer’s writing received the Vera Myer Strube Award in poetry. Comer is the winner of Crab Orchard Review’s 2014 Richard Peterson Poetry Prize. In 2016, she completed a master’s degree in African American Literature from the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies and a Master’s of Fine Arts degree in Poetry from the English Department at Indiana University. She is a 2019 Kresge Literary Arts Fellow. 

Over the years, Comer has been dedicated to youth development by serving as a writer-in-residence in Detroit Public Schools Community District and community centers. She has also worked in collaboration with organizations, including YArts and InsideOut Literary Arts Projects. Ms. Comer served as a curriculum developer and youth curriculum consultant for various arts organizations and in 2018 received the William Wiggins Award for Outstanding Teaching at Indiana University.

Comer’s poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, The Journal of Pan African Studies, Sycamore Review, and Third Coast. She is the author of American Family: Syndrome (Finishing Line Press) and Tapping Out (Northwestern University Press), which was awarded the 2020 Society of Midland Authors Award and the 2020 Julie Suk Award.

Comer is currently the director of Allied Media Projects Seeds Program and the co-director of Detroit Lit, a program dedicated to providing reading and professional development opportunities to narrative makers of color in Detroit.

Published Works

Tapping Out : Poems - TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press, 2020

American Family : A Syndrome - Finishing Line Press, 2018

Contact/Hosting

Connect with the Michigan Poet Laureate by emailing: PoetLaureate@Michigan.gov.

Interested in hosting the Michigan Poet Laureate? Submit your request using the 2023-24 Michigan Poet Laureate Event Request Form: https://airtable.com/shru0bof6A82sB9lz

History of Michigan Poet Laureate position

Prior to Comer’s selection, Michigan had only appointed one other state poet laureate. Edgar A. Guest (1881-1959) was named Poet Laureate through Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 38 (1952) of the Michigan Legislature.
 
Guest held the title of Poet Laureate of the state of Michigan from 1952 until his death in 1959. Will Carleton (1847-1912) is sometimes referred to as the first Poet Laureate of Michigan. Public Act 51 of 1919 designated October 21 of each year as "Carleton Day" in memory of "Michigan's pioneer poet." However, "Carleton Day" was a commemorative school holiday in honor of Carleton as opposed to an appointed poet laureate title. "Carleton Day" was removed as a school holiday in 1995 as directed by Public Act 289 during a revision of the state of Michigan's school code.

 

Updated: 4/12/2023