Robert Bly

Robert Bly

Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

Pawlenty appoints Robert Bly as state's first poet laureate

  • February 27, 2008 - 11:13 PM

Robert Bly says he views his appointment as Minesota's first poet laureate as a chance "to make poetry in Minnesota better known." Bly, a son of Lac Qui Parle County who lives in Minneapolis, was named to the honorary position Wednesday by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Bly, an unabashed liberal, said he saw no political conflict with the GOP governor.

"I don't know of any official duties," Bly said in a phone conversation. "I may do an anthology of Minnesota poets, but I won't be writing any state poems. I'll give it a year or two and then turn it over to one of the younger poets."

Bly, 81, has written more than 30 books of poetry. He is best known nationally, however, for his 1990 prose exploration of mythology, "Iron John: A Book About Men." Recently, he translated Henrik Ibsen's epic play "Peer Gynt" for the Guthrie Theater. That production ends this weekend.

Pawlenty said in a statement that Bly's "40-year career and national renown will help promote poetry in Minnesota."

The Legislature created the honorary position last year. Pawlenty vetoed a bill to establish it in 2005, but legislators tucked the provision into a broader bill last session, making it tough for Pawlenty to block it again.

GRAYDON ROYCE AND Associated Press


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