Kimberly Blaeser is a poet, scholar, and former Wisconsin Poet Laureate (2015–2016). Of Anishinaabe ancestry and a native of White Earth Reservation in northwestern Minnesota, Blaeser crafts poems that dwell deeply on a complex, natural world—which includes the power of human imagination.
Blaeser works as Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, where she teaches Creative Writing, Native American Literature, and American Nature Writing. When she isn’t busy transporting her daughter to sporting events or tracking her son’s college career, Blaeser’s interests include wilderness expeditions and wildlife and nature photography. Her current creative project features “Picto-Poems” and brings her poetry together with nature and wildlife photography to explore intersecting ideas about Native place, nature, preservation, and spiritual sustenance.
Blaeser’s three published poetry collections have earned critical acclaim for their ability to refresh our vision of the world we live in. Of her 2002 collection Absentee Indians and Other Poems, poet and musician Joy Harjo writes “These poems are small sure lights in the darkness—poems to lead us home.” And, “this is a gorgeous book,” says author and filmmaker Sherman Alexie of Blaeser’s 2007 collection, Apprenticed to Justice.
Her work is widely anthologized, and has been translated into several languages, including Spanish, Norwegian, Indonesian, and Anishinaabemowin. Blaeser has performed her poetry around the globe, having given readings of creative work at over two hundred different venues in a dozen different countries, including performances at the Borobudur Temple in Indonesia and in a Fire-Ceremony at the Borderlands Museum Grounds in arctic Norway.
Blaeser is active in service to literature, the arts, and social justice. She currently serves on the editorial board for the American Indian Lives series of the University of Nebraska Press, and for the Native American Series of Michigan State University Press. She has served on the advisory board for the Sequoyah Research Center and Native American Press Archives, on the Poetry Fellowship Panel for the National Endowment of the Arts, and has been a member of the Native American Alumni Board for the University of Notre Dame. Most recently, Blaeser initiated the Milwaukee Native American Literary Cooperative which helped to bring 75 Native American writers to Milwaukee for the 20th Anniversary Returning the Gift Festival of Native Writers and Storytellers in 2012 and continues to sponsor events each year.
Video provided courtesy of the UWM Media Team.