Idaho native and poet Kerri Webster has been named Idaho Writer in Residence by Idaho Commission on the Arts. This is regarded as one of the highest literary recognitions that can be awarded to an Idaho Writer. As the Idaho Commission details, “the Writer in Residence serves as an ambassador for the literary arts and encourages meaningful engagement with the written word, and promotes the importance of creative writing to educate, illuminate, and inspire.” Webster will have the opportunity to expand on her own work and support other creative writers; she will receive $10,000 and serve for two years starting on July 1, 2023.
According to the review panel, “Webster is a poet of the mystical tradition who maintains deep roots in our time, and place. She considers issues of femininity, of the familial and the familiar, in spaces equally charged with the deep intellectual investigation, linguistic possibility and emotionally resonant pleasure.”
The Idaho Writer in Residence began in 1923 with Irene Grissom as its first poet laureate. Flashforward to 1983, when the program was re-initiated and developed by the Sun Valley Center for the Arts and Humanities; then, transferred to the Idaho Commission on the Arts in 1986. Idaho applicants were selected through a thorough process, having their writing samples reviewed and judged by a panel of out-of-state writers.
Kerri Webster is the author of four collections of poetry: Lapis (Wesleyan, 2022) The Trailhead (Wesleyan, 2018), Grand & Arsenal (University of Iowa Press, 2012), and We Do Not Eat Our Hearts Alone (University of Georgia Press, 2005), as well as two chapbooks, Psalm Project (2009) and Rowing Through Fog (2003). Grand & Arsenal was selected by Jane Mead for the Iowa Poetry Prize, and We Do Not Eat Our Hearts Alone was selected by Elizabeth Robinson as the winner of the Contemporary Poetry Series. She is also a recipient of the 2011 Whiting Award, the Alice Fay di Castagnola award from the Poetry Society of America, the Lucille Medwick Award, the Lynda Hull Memorial Prizem an Alexa Rose Foundation Grant, and, earlier in her career, awards from Crazyhorse, River Styx, and the Bellingham Review. Her work has appeared in a number of journals including the Los Angeles Review, Colorado Review, Guernica, Indiana Review, Antioch Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Poetry Northwest, Boston Review, Poetry, Denver Quarterly, Kenyon Review, and American Poet.
Webster was a lecturer in MFA program at Boise State University through 2022, when she stepped down to pursue other work. Previously, she was a Visiting Professor at Washington University in St. Louis, an Adjunct Instructor at the College of Western Idaho, and a Writer in the Schools for THE CABIN.