SALT LAKE CITY — Paisley Rekdal, professor of English at the University of Utah, has been named the new Utah poet laureate by the Utah Division of Arts & Museums.
The post, established in 1997, is a governor-appointed advocate for literature and the arts throughout the state.
As poet laureate, Rekdal will create a website that maps the writers and poets of Utah, along with all the various literary presses and journals in the state. She plans to conduct audio interviews with as many Utah poets, writers and publishers as possible and post them on the website. The project is a spinoff of Mapping Salt Lake City, a community-created archive of art and literature, which she created and manages.
In the past, the laureate work has tended to be Wasatch Front-heavy, but Rekdal plans to expand the reach and vision to represent as much of the state as possible.
Rekdal is the author of a book of essays, “The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee”; the hybrid genre, photo-text memoir, “Intimate”; and five books of poetry, “A Crash of Rhinos,” “Six Girls Without Pants,” “The Invention of the Kaleidoscope,” “Animal Eye” and “Imaginary Vessels.”
Her work has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Fellowship, Village Voice Writers on the Verge Award, National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, Pushcart Prizes, University of Georgia Press’ Contemporary Poetry Series Award, a Fulbright fellowship, inclusion in the Best American Poetry series (2012 and 2013) and various state arts council awards.
“Animal Eye” was a finalist for the 2013 Kingsley Tufts Prize, Balcones Poetry Prize and was the winner of the 2013 University of North Texas' Rilke Prize. Rekdal's newest book of nonfiction, “The Broken Country: On Trauma, a Crime, and the Continuing Legacy of Vietnam,” won the 2016 Association of Writers & Writing Programs' nonfiction prize and will be published this year.