Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Mississippi Could Have Its First ‘State Poem’ With Your Help!

According to the Library of Congress, while 42 U.S. states have a poet laureate, only five of them have a state poem. Thanks to proud Tupelo, Mississippi writer and poet Patricia Dorsey, Mississippi could soon be a leader in this category by becoming the sixth. 

Dorsey, who was appointed as a Good Will Ambassador for Mississippi in 2015, wrote the poem “Meet My Mississippi” in 2013, inspired by her genuine love for her home state. People who heard or read the poem encouraged her to see what it would take for it to become the official state poem. You can hear Dorsey reading the poem and telling a little of her story in the video below.

That journey began during the 2015 Mississippi Legislative session. The Tourism Committee met and was positive about it, but it never made it out of the committee. This time, Dorsey is more encouraged. She said that Senator Chad McMahan of Guntown, Mississippi will sponsor the bill in the Senate, and Representative Randy Boyd of Fulton, Mississippi will introduce it in the House. It will then go to the Tourism committee. She is encouraged because the committee has contacted her about coming to read the poem during the first couple of weeks of the session, which begins next week on January 3. This is an indication that the committee is expecting to be receiving the bills. 

That’s where the public comes in. Dorsey says she needs people to email, write or call of members of the Tourism committee below to express their support for the poem. Once the poem (hopefully) makes it out of committee, both houses of the legislature will have to pass it. But Dorsey feels pretty good about the chances of passage.

“I’ve had a lot of representatives and senators say they like it and will vote on it if it makes it out of committee,” Dorsey said. “We just need to make sure it has the support to get out of the committee.”

Dorsey’s poem “My Mississippi”

Of note: the states that currently have a state poem are: Indiana, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Tennessee

Becki Currie (Chair)
Sara Thomas (Vice Chair)
Lydia Graves Chassaniol
Willie Bailey
Richard Bennett
Lester Carpenter
Dana Criswell
Oscar Denton
Casey Eure
Jeffery Guice
Greg Haney
Ashley Henley
Kabir Karriem
Steve Massengill
Chuck Middleton
Tom Miles
Randall Patterson
Omeria Scott
Sonya Williams-Barnes
Patricia Willis

Lydia Chassaniol (Chair)
Sean Tindall (VC)
Albert Butler
Tommy Gollott  
Josh Harkins
Briggs Hobson III
John Horhn
David Jordan
Chris Massey
Chad McMahan
Willie Simmons staff report

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