Sponsored by Patricia Monaghan.
Margaret Mielke was the first Poet Laureate of Alaska. Born in 1912 in Minnesota as Margaret Alyce Gustafson, she published two books of poetry (1934 and 1938) before moving to Alaska, having six children, and becoming a high school English teacher. She was a major cultural force in her small community, constantly bringing poetry into public venues until her death in 1980. She gathered anthologies of Alaskan poetry, served as poetry editor for the Anchorage Times, and helped form the Poetry Society of Alaska and the League of Alaskan Writers. The Margaret Mielke award for poetry, offered annually in Alaska for grade-school children, sustains her memory.
Margaret was also my 9th grade English teacher. She was the first living poet I encountered and was, for many years, the only one. She loved poetry passionately and encouraged students both by her teaching and her example. Although little known outside her rural environment, she serves to me as a representative of the innumerable women who make poetry the center of their lives despite being far from the centers of prestige and acclaim.