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Carol Muske-Dukes appointed California poet laureate

November 14, 2008 |  8:54 am


Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has appointed Carol Muske-Dukes as California's new Poet Laureate.

Muske-Dukes, who has reviewed for the Los Angeles Times, has written seven books of poetry; her most recent, "Sparrow," was nominated for a National Book Award. She has also written two collections of essays and  four novels, including 2007's  "Channeling Mark Twain," which was an L.A. Times bestseller (coincidentally, one of its characters is a stuffy former poet laureate).

Muske-Dukes is a professor at USC, where she began teaching more than 20 years ago. She is a founder of USC's PhD program in creative writing, known as one of the country's best.

When I was a literature student at USC, I knew Muske-Dukes through my friends who studied poetry. She had a reputation as a good teacher and a kind and engaged professor. Her generosity will serve her well as poet laureate; while the position used to be titular, it now carries the responsibility of working "in conjunction with the California Arts Council to bring the poetic arts to Californians and to California students who might otherwise have little opportunity to be exposed to poetry." For her efforts, she'll get $10,000 over two years, after confirmation by the California State Senate.

Ten of Muske-Dukes poems are online at the Poetry Foundation.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Luis Sinco /Los Angeles Times