An OCU English professor was named the poet laureate for the state of Oklahoma.
Poet laureates are official, government or institutional-appointed poets hired to write poems for special events and occasions.
Jeanetta Calhoun Mish is the program director of the low-residency Red Earth MFA program at OCU where she works with Robert Roensch, associate professor of English.
“Student writers from Oklahoma and beyond come to the Red Earth MFA to improve their creative writing, and they graduate as more thoughtful and skillful writers and as members of a vibrant writing community, and that’s a testament to Jeanetta’s leadership,” Roensch said.
Mish received her Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Oklahoma in 2009 and is a published author. Her first poetry book, Tongue Tied Women, won the Edda Poetry Chapbook Competition for Women in 2002. She was a 40 year-old college senior at the time.
Mish also won the 2010 Western Heritage Award for Poetry, the 2010 Oklahoma Book Award for Poetry and the 2010 WILLA Award for Poetry for her second book, Work is Love Made Visible.
Mish is also an editor of Oklahoma Today and regularly writes essays for them. She recently published stories in poetry magazines and sites like Sugar Mule, ProtestPoems.org and the nationally famous “Walt’s Corner” in Long Islander.
Mish has participated in poetry festivals and readings for over 20 years. She mostly performs at the Woody Guthrie Free Folk Festival in Okemah since she is a founding member of the Woody Guthrie Poets.
She also guest-edited “Writing the Great Recession,” for the November/December 2013 issue of World Literature Today.
“I couldn’t imagine a more deserving poet laureate. She’s one of the most important literary voices in the state of Oklahoma,” Roensch said.
Mish makes long lasting impressions on students as well as the regular public, said Patience Williams, English senior.
“She came and spoke to one of my classes about a year ago about writing, and about what she writes about/how she determines what to write and how to write it,” Williams said.
As a professor, Mish places emphasis reading and researching the history of reading and writing, especially in the genre of each student’s specialty, she said in her bio on the OCU website.
Mish’s latest work is her collection of poetry and essays entitled, What I Learned at the War and Oklahomeland: Essays.
Several of Mish’s full poems are available to read on her website at jeanettacalhounmish.com/writings-online.