Paulann Petersen: Oregon's Poet Laureate

Authors Road: Poem by Paulann Petersen

A portion of a "Poetry in Motion" bus poster with a poem call "Thirst" by Paulann Petersen.

In addition to being a writer, Paulann has also been a teacher. Her teaching career spans from teaching English at two high schools, to a long list of workshops at colleges, libraries, conferences in places as far as Turkey.

Paulann has an amazing list of publications, including full-length books and chapbooks, and numerous appearances in magazines and collections. Her work has earned her an equally impressive list of awards and acknowledgements, starting with her selection as Outstanding Graduate Student at Southern Oregon University to her appointment in 2006 as Oregon’s Poet Laureate.

We were honored to have had the opportunity to share in her insights, and we believe you too will find her to be the “poet’s poet.”

“We write to create ourselves.

We write to discover from moment to moment to moment who we are.”

author interview: Paulann Petersen, Oregon's Poet Laureate Interview on Authors Road


Portland, OR

Run time:






Portland, Oregon

Youthful influence:

The high desert landscape of Klamath Falls, OR

Influential Poet:

Walt Whitman

Writing Habit:

In the kitchen, dining room, on the deck, when the sound comes.

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So it was to be expected that when we began assembling our Authors Road list of writers we wanted most to interview, Paulann Petersen would be prominent—and we were thrilled when she accepted our request to meet.

Paulann is much more than Oregon’s poet laureate. She is poetry. As you listen and watch her, her hands weave couplets and rhymes in the air, and her Siren voice entraps you and pulls you into her world where poetry is everywhere.

Paulann was born and raised in Portland, attended Pomona College, and Southern Oregon University where she graduated with a B.S. and M.S. in Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts. Following this she was accepted as a Stegner Fellow in poetry and did further graduate work at Stanford University.

A few years ago we had the good fortune to meet Paulann at a poetry reading she was hosting for some fellow poets at her home in Southeast Portland.

However, the truth is we didn’t formally meet her. We wouldn’t expect her to remember us since her home was packed with hundreds of friends, followers and poetry lovers – a standing room only experience. But the readings were wonderful, new friends were met, and Paulann became another mythic character residing in our Mount Olympus Hero’s Hall.


Outstanding Graduate Student, Southern Oregon University, 1984

Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Poetry, Stanford University, 1986-87

Carolyn Kizer Poetry Awards, 1989, 1997

Numerous nominations for a Pushcart Prize

Stewart Holbrook Award for Outstanding Contributions to Oregon's Literary Life, Finalist, Oregon Book Award in Poetry, 2006

Oregon Poet Laureate 2010 –


Under the Sign of a Neon Wolf, Confluence Press, 1989
The Animal Bride, Trask House Press, 1994
Fabrication, 26 Books, 1996
The Hermaphrodite Flower, Watzek Library Special Collections,
Lewis & Clark College, 2005

Full-Length Books:

The Wild Awake, Confluence Press, 2002
Blood-Silk, Quiet Lion Press, 2004
A Bride of Narrow Escape, Cloudbank Books, 2005
Kindle, Mountains and Rivers Press, 2008
The Voluptuary, Lost Horse Press, 2010

Poem by Paulann Petersen, Authors Road
Poem by Paulann Petersen; Print by Barbara Mason