October 6, 1971
Governor Dale Bumpers announced Lily Peter’s appointment as poet laureate of Arkansas. Peter, a farmer from Phillips County, was a renowned patron of the arts and an advocate for the environment. She wrote lyrical and historical poetry, including a book-length poem about the Hernando de Soto expedition in the United States. The term “laureate” refers to the ancient custom of crowning a person with a wreath made from leaves of the laurel tree. In antiquity, military heroes, athletic champions, and winners in singing, music, and poetry contests typically received this honor. In modern times, monarchs, governing bodies, or other organizations have named poets laureate, often in recognition of a significant talent but sometimes for political or other reasons.