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Portland resident Anis Mojgani named 10th Oregon Poet Laureate; he replaces Kim Stafford and has a two-year appointment

COURTESY PHOTO: TRISTAN PAIIGE - Anis Mojgani is the 10th Oregon Poet Laureate.Oregon has a new Poet Laureate.

Gov. Kate Brown has named Portland resident Anis Mojgani as the next Oregon Poet Laureate. He's the 10th person to hold the position and he'll replace Kim Stafford.

It's a two-year appointment.

Mojgani has twice won the National Poetry Slam and he also won the World Cup Poetry Slam.

"Anis is the pragmatic optimist Oregon needs in these unprecedented times," Brown said. "His words breathe fresh air into the anxiety and negativity that we all feel. He urges us to resolutely reflect in the moment and with each grounding breath, our hearts 'come closer and come into this.'"

Born in New Orleans to black and Iranian parents, Mojgani moved to Oregon in 2004. He is the author of five books of poetry, including his latest, "In the Pockets of Small Gods." Mojgani has also done commissioned work for the Getty Museum and the Peabody Essex Museum, and the premiere of his first opera libretto, "Sanctuaries," is scheduled for April 2021.

His work has appeared on HBO, National Public Radio, in the Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day series, and in the pages of such journals as Rattle, Platypus, Winter Tangerine, Forklift Ohio and Bat City Review.

His performance credits include hundreds of universities across the U.S. as well as international festivals such as the Sydney Writer's Festival, Jamaica's Calabash festival and Seoul's Young Writer's Festival. His audiences range from the United Nations to the House of Blues and Portland's Pickathon music festival.

"I believe all of us wish to be seen on some level, to be heard," Mojgani said. "For then we get a little closer to being known and understood. The closer we get to that, the more we are able to see and understand how we belong to the world we are a part of — to belong. That is what poetry does — it gives us all the power and path to being known, both to ourselves and to others. It shows the ways in which we as humans, while carrying our aloneness, also belong and are connected to one another. The poem illuminates this collectiveness.

"And in a state I was not born in but have a belonging to, I am overjoyed and honored to find the ways to further how as Oregonians we might become more known to one another."

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