OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Renowned cowboy poet Joe Russell Kreger has been named the Oklahoma State Poet Laureate for 2021-2022, an achievement he has now attained twice.
Gov. Kevin Stitt announced on Thursday that Kreger was his poet laureate selection.
“It is an honor to appoint Joe Russell Kreger as the 2021-2022 Oklahoma State Poet Laureate,” Stitt said. “Joe’s journey to creative writing shows that it is never too late for new ventures and I look forward to this rancher turned ‘cowboy poet’ carrying on our Oklahoma tradition and promoting his work across the state.”
Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating appointed Kreger the Oklahoma State Poet Laureate in 1997, according to a news release from Stitt’s office.
Kreger’s poetry evokes the spirit of Oklahoma, according to Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples.
“Over the next two years, school children and other audiences across Oklahoma will have opportunities to find themselves absorbed in the stories Joe conveys in his poetry,” Sharples said. “Joe’s work as a cowboy poet is filled with the wisdom gleaned from a life defined by a strong work ethic, a humble nature, and the heartbreaks and blessings encountered along the way. His connection to the land we call home and the inspiration he draws from it are defining trademarks that will speak to the heart of Oklahomans everywhere.”
Kreger was born in Tonkawa, and his father introduced him to poetry at a young age. He graduated from Northern Oklahoma College and Oklahoma State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science, and went on to become a full-time rancher and entrepreneur, according to the news release.
He picked up the pen age 56, writing poems to express his life experiences.
Kreger, a self-described “cowboy poet,” has published two books on poetry, ‘Lookin’ at Life’ and ‘Still Lookin’,’ as well as several audio albums of his poetry. His works set sales records for cowboy poets of his era.
He’s given over 150 poetry readings and presentations in schools, churches and agricultural organizations across the region.
The poet laureate tradition in Oklahoma dates back to 1923
“The appointment of an Oklahoma State Poet Laureate by the Governor of Oklahoma was codified into state law in 1994. The statute calls for an appointment every two years,” the news release states.
Tulsa resident Joy Harjo is the current United States Poet Laureate.