Guest Blog by Oregon Poet Laureate, Paulann Petersen:


Our earth’s circumference is 24,902 miles. Today—April 9,2014—as Oregon’s Poet Laureate I’ve traveled25,745 miles within Oregon’sboundaries giving workshops and readings and presentations. By April 26 (theend of my second and last OPL term) I will have added several hundred milesmore to the total with a trip to Madrasand Burns.

As OPL, I can say I’ve circled the world, the world inside Oregon! And I don’t mean merely in terms ofthe number of miles. Oregonitself is a vast and marvelously varied world. Ours is a world of high desert.Sea-level rain forest. Steens Mountain. The Cascades.The Wallowas. The Coastal Range. Ours is a world of the Columbia Gorge,hundreds of miles of public ocean beaches, canyon-lands on the John Day River, fruit orchards, Christmas treefarms, miles of onion fields. 

I’ve had the privilege and delight of doing OPL work in allof Oregon’s 36 counties—work in 77 Oregon libraries, 59 Oregonschools, 82 Oregontowns and cities. From Corvallis to Paisley,from Astoria to Ontario,from Gold Beach to Hermiston, people have welcomedme. Oregon’shospitality is world-class.

These past four years have been a gift, a boon, a blessingto me. I thank all of the wonderful people who’ve welcomed me and helped me tobring poetry to so many places in Oregon.I thank the Cultural Trust and the Five Cultural Partners for supporting theposition of a poet laureate in Oregon,for making the position possible. I thank Oregon Humanities for providing theliaison for the OPL. I thank my husband Ken Pallack (who has re-named himselfas the Poet Laureate Delivery Service)for accompanying me on most of the trips and doing most of the driving.

The 7th Oregon Poet Laureate will be named sometimein the near future. Then that lucky poet can begin traveling the world that’sinside Oregon.Right now, this 6th Oregon Poet Laureate wants to say thank you.

Thank you, Oregon,for giving me the chance to be your ambassador for poetry.

—Paulann Petersen