The Lewistown Public Library is honored to host Montana Poet Laureate Mark Gibbons for a reading and discussion on Thursday, December 9 from 6-8PM. This Montana Conversations program is sponsored by Humanities Montana and is part of their Hometown Humanities event, which brings humanities-based programs to Lewistown for this year.
Having lived in Montana his entire life, Gibbons earliest exposure to the poetry was through the lyrics of rocks bands of the sixties and seventies, as well as the Beat poets, including Kerouac and Bukowski. While interested, it wasn’t until high school that writing poetry became an accessible endeavor for him. When acclaimed writer James Welch visited Gibbons’ high school English class in Alberton, Montana in 1970, he felt he was given permission to write in his own unadulterated voice and from his own experiences.
Gibbons does not attest to be a typical poet. His journey through academia spans a quarter century, including beginning his MFA at the University of Montana at 42 years old after years of working blue-collar jobs and writing poetry in his spare time. When his father died in 1993, Gibbons was inspired to seek self-publication for his first poetry collection titled “Something Inside Us”. He has since released eleven volumes of poetry, including most recently “mostly cloudy” and “In the Weeds”. Gibbons has taught poetry in a variety of capacities and currently teaches through the Missoula Writing Collaborative.
Gibbons was named Montana Poet Laureate by the state governor in September 2021 and will serve a two-year term. This position “recognizes and honors a citizen poet of exceptional talent and accomplishment” and seeks to support poetic arts through outreach in Montana. One of his first initiatives as Poet Laureate to make recordings of living poets in the state, capturing the lyricism of spoken word that Gibbons holds to high esteem.
Gibbons has been described as a “poet conversationalist”. His work aims to be relatable and accessible to all and for readers to see themselves in his poetry. Gibbons claims to be “foul-mouthed” and rough around the edges, which he utilizes to embody a raw honesty in his work. Readers and listeners will surely recognize the Montana grittiness in poems such as “Old School”, which opens with the lines, “i’ll drink anything/ but i buy cheap canned beer/ fix my mower/ with a coat hanger/ start and stop it with the choke.”
This event will take place in the upstairs Meeting Room and Mark will join us virtually. For questions, contact 406-538-5212.