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Arts Has a New Advocate in South Dakota

Lee Ann Roripaugh
State of South Dakota

South Dakota’s newest poet laureate is an award-winner. She is also a USD professor and Wyoming native.

Governor Dennis Daugaard has appointed Lee Ann Roripaugh of Vermillion as South Dakota’s poet laureate. She will take over for David Allan Evans, who has served as South Dakota’s poet laureate since 2002.

Starting with her work Beyond Heart Mountain in 1999 up through Dandarians which was published in 2014, Roripaugh has been hailed by critic Ishmael Reed as “one of the brightest talents” in poetry. She exudes a strong tie to her Japanese heritage in her writing, earning the Association of Asian American Studies Book Award in 2004 for Year of the Snake.

Roripaugh currently teaches Creative Writing at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion and is the editor of the national, quarterly journal South Dakota Review. The South Dakota Arts Council serves South Dakotans and their communities through the arts and works closely with the poet laureate.

In a press release, the Governor’s office further explains changes to the position instituted by South Dakota Legislature. Under the terms of Senate Bill 86, which was passed earlier this year, Roripaugh will serve a four-year term that ends on July 1, 2019.  Future governors will have the opportunity, every four years, to name a new poet laureate to promote poetry and represent South Dakota’s varied literary traditions.

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