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Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

Vince Gotera named Iowa Poet Laureate

Professor Vince Gotera was recently named Iowa Poet Laureate by Govenor Kim Reynolds. Gotera will serve a two-year term, and is the fifth ever Iowa Poet Laureate.

This past February, Gov. Kim Reynolds appointed UNI’s Vince Gotera as this year’s Iowa Poet Laureate. Vince Gotera is a professor in the Department of Languages & Literatures at the University of Northern Iowa.

Gotera is the fifth Poet Laureate in Iowa and will serve in the position for two years. The position was created 25 years ago with the intent to recognize the importance of poetry in Iowans’ everyday lives.

“I’m excited to represent poetry across the state of Iowa. Born and raised in San Francisco, and having lived a few years as a child in the Philippines, I’ve been very glad to be so welcomed in Iowa, where I have lived for almost 30 years,” Gotera said.

The Iowa Poet Laureate is nominated every two years and is chosen from a list of three nominees put forth by a volunteer citizen committee selected by Humanities Iowa and the Iowa Arts Council.

Jim O’Loughlin, Languages and Literatures professor and head of the department, nominated Gotera for the appointed position.

“Iowa has not only been where he has lived and worked for the last three decades, but he has also exemplified the work ethic and openness to influences that I have come to associate with our state. As poet laureate, he would be an inspiration to younger writers and a proud proponent of poetry in Iowa,” O’Loughlin said.

Gotera has been teaching creative writing and literature for nearly 30 years. He’s earned the Faculty Excellence Award and the statewide Regents Award for Faculty Excellence. As an author, Gotera has published more than 300 poems in venues across the U.S. and internationally.

“I’ve written poetry since I was about six, when I wrote my first poem. I wrote poetry all through school and college, where I studied it at Stanford University and San Francisco State University,” Gotera said.

Gotera was a PhD student at Indiana University (1981-1982). He then decided to also get a Master of Fine Arts in poetry (1986), in order to pursue a career in creative writing and literature.

“I’m elated to promote poetry in the state and inspire Iowans to read and write poetry, to bring beauty and art to our everyday lives.” Gotera hopes to eliminate the stigma that poetry isn’t for everyone because it’s ‘too it should be accessible to everyone and fun for folks of all ages and backgrounds.

“I would like to dispel, as poet laureate, the stereotype that many people have about poetry that it’s hard to understand and it’s too damn serious,” Gotera said. “I will be taking part in the Poetry Palooza festival in Des Moines in April, and I plan to perform a rap poem while playing electric guitar.”

Gotera plans to visit schools, libraries, colleges, universities, and churches to give poetry readings and performances, participate in various poetry events, in hopes of introducing audiences to other poets. He also hopes to give workshops to Iowans who want to learn to write poems.

Gotera will also create a poetry project online to “reach as many Iowans as I can, since I can’t visit everywhere, though I will certainly try to visit as many Iowa locations as I can.” He will also encourage as many Iowans who are interested to write poetry themselves.

“It’s important for Iowans to appreciate poetry because it’s a wonderful source of beauty and one of the major arts. Poetry expresses our deep and intimate connections to nature and culture.”

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KATE MURPHY, Staff Writer

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