PIERRE, S.D. – On May 29, Gov. Kristi Noem announced that Christine Stewart, an English professor at South Dakota State University, has been named as the next South Dakota Poet Laureate. Stewart, who begins her four-year term July 1, will be the state’s seventh poet laureate. She will take over the position held by University of South Dakota English Professor Lee Ann Roripaugh.
“Christine’s passion for poetry is inspiring,” said Noem. “I look forward to the ways she will incorporate the themes of South Dakota into her work and promote the importance of creative expression.”
“As South Dakota’s Poet Laureate, I will promote the reading and writing of poetry in our state,” said Stewart. “I plan to edit an anthology of poems about South Dakota by South Dakotans and use it to initiate conversations about poetry in schools and communities.” In her new position, Stewart will make appearances at poetry readings and literary events, including October’s South Dakota Festival of Books.
The South Dakota State Poetry Society selected Stewart after a statewide search and then made a recommendation to Noem, who officially appointed her to the position.
“Christine is a talented poet and teacher. We were impressed with her ambitious plan for bringing poetry to all South Dakotans,” said Bruce Roseland, president of the South Dakota State Poetry Society. “I have known Christine for a number of years and can assure everyone that her approach to sharing poetry is warm, personable and dynamic.”
Stewart, who writes as Stewart-Nuňez, has published five volumes of poetry: “Postcard on Parchment” (2008), “Keeping Them Alive” (2011), “Snow, Salt, Honey” (2012), “Untrussed” (2016) and “Bluewords Greening” (2016). She teaches creative writing courses and is coordinator of South Dakota State’s creative writing program.
This spring, Stewart won the 2018 Whirling Prize in Poetry from Etching Press for “Bluewords Greening,” in which she describes her experiences as a woman coping with miscarriages and as a mother raising a child with disability. Her older son, Holden, has a rare form of epilepsy known as Landau-Kleffner Syndrome.
A native of Des Moines, Iowa, Stewart earned a bachelor’s degree in English education and writing from the University of Northern Iowa in 1995. After teaching for two years at Tarsus American College in Turkey, she attended Arizona State University and completed a master’s degree in literature in 2000. She received her doctorate in creative writing from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2007.