SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – South Dakota once again has a Poet Laureate.
After two years with no state poetry ambassador, the Governor’s office appointed Bruce Roseland from Seneca, SD to the position.
Poet Laureates from each state serve a four year term where they promote poetry reading and writing across their states through programs and activities.
“Not too many people are able to sit down and write a novel or a book, that could take years and years,” Roseland said. “But, a lot of things strike people about their life and they want other people to know that. Poetry is a great way of expressing that.”
Roseland was the first choice for the South Dakota State Poetry Society (SDSPS), who selects candidates the Governor chooses from. Dana Yost, the interim president of SDSPS, said Roseland’s goals of inspiring young poets are aligned with the Poetry Society and that Roseland will be a good ambassador for poetry in the state.
“He’s a lifelong South Dakotan. He really knows the land, the makeup of South Dakota and the people real well,” Yost said. “He believes that poetry can be read by anybody, anywhere.” Yost is also the husband of KELOLAND News Digital Reporter Rae Yost.
Roseland refers to himself as an “accidental poet” who got into writing after a health scare in the early 2000s inspired him to document his life as a rancher in South Dakota. Roseland is a fourth generation rancher at his family farm in Faulk County. He said he wanted his future grandchildren to know what it was like growing up during his time.
“It was enough to make me think, ‘You know, by golly, if I don’t start writing her down now, maybe I won’t have time to write it down at all,” Roseland said. “I just kept on writing. The story– it just kept on going.”
Twenty years later, Roseland now has grandchildren he can share his stories with, along with multiple published books under his belt. Some of his most notable poetry collections include “The Last Buffalo,” which received the 2007 Wrangler Award for Excellence in Western Literature and Media, “A Prairie Prayer,” “Cowman” and “Heart of the Prairie.”
“I look at poetry as a way for people to express what they value to other people, it’s a way to communicate, which is a great thing,” Roseland said.
Roseland found his niche after he returned to South Dakota from college in the 80s when he saw the beginnings of the farm crisis and homestead families began leaving the state. He wanted to write about what life as a rancher was like and the natural beauty and agriculture of South Dakota.
“So that’s what I did, I sat down and I started writing about what it was like to live in my time and place,” he said. “I got to thinking about my great grandfather and if I could have asked him any questions, I would have asked the what, the why, in a day of his life. It was always fascinating to me.”
As Poet Laureate, Roseland hopes to get more young people interested in not only reading, but writing poetry. He will join the Poetry Society in a 14-month long program called “Poetry on the Road” where authors and poets read to students throughout the state. The first Poetry on the Road event is September 27 at the Matthews Opera House and Art Center in Spearfish.
“What I’d like, at the end of my four years, is if more people are writing poetry, or just more people are writing, I would have had a successful four year run,” Roseland said.
Yost said Roseland also hopes to create an anthology of poems written by South Dakota authors later in his term as Poet Laureate. Roseland will serve until July 2027.
“The main goal of the Poetry Society is exactly what Bruce wants to do and that’s to make poetry accessible to everybody,” Yost said. “We want it to be easier and enjoyable to read or even to write.”