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Craigo named Missouri Poet Laureate

Karen Craigo’s (91) passion for writing has taken her from the Appalachian Mountains to the Ozark Mountains. The Morehead State graduate from Gallipolis, Ohio, was recently named Missouri Poet Laureate. 

“It was such an unexpected honor to be named the Poet Laureate of Missouri,” Craigo said. “It’s a genuine privilege to be charged with promoting poetry in the Show-Me State, but my head is still reeling from the surprise of it all.”  

Craigo honed her poetry writing at Morehead State through the knowledge she gained through courses and faculty like former MSU English professor George Eklund and her mentor the late Michelle Boisseau, acclaimed Kansas City poet and former MSU professor. She cites her work on Inscape, MSU’s annual literary and visual arts journal, as what started her off on a lifelong passion for publishing.   

She said her time at MSU and the surroundings were a creative muse.   

“There’s something kind of magical about Morehead. Being situated amid such natural beauty inspired the highest kind of thinking, and I know the landscape had a dramatic effect on the artists I knew there, as did the chance to collaborate with so many fascinating people who seemed to experience almost a magnetic pull to the area – as I did,” she said.  

Craigo graduated from MSU with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. After spending time in Missoula, Montana, she returned to Ohio to work for a newspaper in Kenton. She earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from nearby Bowling Green University in 2000. From there, Craigo taught college writing courses before moving to Missouri in 2012 with her husband Mike Czyzniejewski, a fiction writer who took a job at Missouri State University in Springfield.  

Appointed to a two-year term earlier this year by Missouri Governor Michael L. Parson, Craigo said she plans to promote poetry throughout the state by publishing a poem from all 114 counties in the state, along with the independent city of St. Louis.  

“You can imagine the fun I’m going to have, hitting hills and hollers and prairies and river towns throughout the state as I try to find the words that are produced here,” she said. “My mission as poet laureate is to promote poetry throughout the state, and that means reaching out to readers and writers of verse to show them what poetry can mean in their lives.”  

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