Southeastern Louisiana University Professor of English Jack Bedell, of Hammond, is the new poet laureate for Louisiana.
Through a process coordinated by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, Gov. John Bel Edwards tapped Bedell to succeed Professor Peter Cooley, of Tulane University, who served in that position since 2015, according to SLU's Communications and Creative Services.
Nominees must have published works in books, anthologies, literary journals or magazines. The committee is charged with selecting nominees who reflect the diverse cultures and heritage of Louisiana, an SLU news release says.
“Jack Bedell’s love for Louisiana is evident in his work, and I’m confident that he will serve honorably as the state’s poet laureate,” Edwards says.
“I am stunned and honored by Gov. Edwards naming me Louisiana Poet Laureate,” Bedell says. “Knowing the quality of the writers who have preceded in the post, I have a hard time seeing myself as a member of the group. I owe Louisiana a profound debt. I think my work shows the love I have for my native state and for the people, places and traditions that have formed such a beautiful life for me and my family. I cannot wait to get started serving my term so I can repay a little of that debt by shining a light on the great poetry that is being produced all over Louisiana.”
Bedell has written nine books of poetry, and teaches creative writing to Southeastern students. He is a native of the Houma-Thibodaux area and joined the Southeastern faculty in 1992. In addition to teaching, he is editor of “Louisiana Literature,” a literary journal published by Southeastern, and serves as director of Louisiana Literature Press.
Among his works are “Come Rain, Come Shine,” “What Passes for Love,” “At the Bonehouse,” and “Revenant.” Due to be released in 2018 is his new book “No Brother, This Storm.” Bedell has had numerous poems published in anthologies and journals.
Bedell is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including having been nominated four times to serve as state Poet Laureate. He was honored with the Governor’s Award for Artistic Achievement in 2007, earned the 2005 Special Humanities Award from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and was honored with Southeastern’s President’s Award for Excellence in Artistic Activity in 1997, one of the highest awards presented by the university to faculty and staff.
Bedell received his doctorate in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, a master’s of fine arts degree in creative writing from the University of Arkansas, and his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in English from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches.