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August 21, 2000     (512) 463-0300

Texas Legislature Honors State Poets

AUSTIN - The Texas State Poet Laureate Committee announced Monday, August 21, 2000 the new Poets Laureate. James Hoggard of Wichita Falls was named for the period beginning November 1, 1999 and ending October 31, 2000. Walt McDonald of Lubbock received the distinction for the period beginning November 1, 2000 and ending October 31, 2001. Both authors were approved unanimously.

Since February of 1932, each Legislature has named a committee to select a new state poet, recognizing an individual for his or her achievements and representation of Texas through poetry. Lt. Governor Rick Perry and Speaker of the House of Representatives James E. "Pete" Laney selected the members of the committee for the 76th Legislature, Regular Session. The members are: State Senator Robert Duncan (Lubbock) and Representative Delwin Jones (Lubbock) as co-chairs, Senators Tom Haywood (Wichita Falls) and Judith Zaffirini (Laredo), and Representatives Joe Deshotel (Beaumont) and Bob Hunter (Abilene).

Announcing the state's poets, Senator Duncan said: "I believe it is important that we acknowledge those artists who have contributed greatly to our state through their works. I hope this recognition brings them the honor we have intended."

James Hoggard is a professor of English at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls. A college professor for more than 35 years, he is also a prolific and diversified author, having written essays, short stories, poetry, plays and book reviews, as well as translations of a number of books originally written in Spanish. Among his many awards are the Hart Crane & Alice Crane Williams Memorial Fund Award for poetry, the Midwestern University Fine Arts Festival Award, the Roll of Honor in The Best American Short Stories, and the Short Story Award from the Texas Institute of Letters.

Walt McDonald is a professor of English at Texas Tech University in Lubbock and was named Lubbock's first poet laureate by the city council. A former pilot and instructor in the United States Air Force, McDonald's poetry is inspired by West Texas and Vietnam. He has authored more than 1,800 poems and one book of fiction. Among many awards, he has been recognized with four National Cowboy Hall of Fame's Western Heritage Awards, six awards from the Texas Institute of Letters, and the Ohio State University/The JournalAward.

Both poets were present today for the official announcement at a press conference in the State Capitol.

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