karla k. morton, the 2010 Texas State Poet Laureate and a member of the Texas Institute of Letters, is a celebrated poet, speaker, author and storyteller. Described as “one of the more adventurous voices in American poetry,” Ms. Morton has been featured on Good Morning Texas, NPR, PBS, ABC News, CBS News and in countless newspapers, blogs and magazines. She is frequently invited to present as a keynote speaker at conventions, conferences, bookstores, universities, festivals and schools. 

A Betsy Colquitt Award Winner, Western Heritage Award Winner, a two-time Indie Book Award Winner, a North Texas Book Festival Award winner, an Eric Hoffer Award winner (first runner-up), a Montaigne Medal Finalist, a Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize shortlist winner, a Tennessee Williams Key West Exhibit Poetry Contest Winner and a Green Book Festival Poetry Winner, Karla is a nominee for the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and a Pushcart Prize nominee. She has been widely published in literary journals and is the author of twelve books of poetry: Wee Cowrin’ Timorous Beastie (a 17th Century Scottish epic book/CD created in collaboration with award-winning composer Howard Baer); Becoming Superman (Rogers Publishing/Wheeler Press), Redefining Beauty, a journey through cancer diagnosis, chemo, radiation and recovery (Dos Gatos Press, 3rd printing); Stirring Goldfish, a Sufi poetry book (Finishing Line Press), Names We’ve Never Known (Texas Review Press); Karla K. Morton: New and Selected Poems (TCU Press); Passion, Art, Community: Denton, Texas in Word and Image (the City of Denton, Texas); 8 Voices: Contemporary Poetry from the American Southwest, a collaborative work written by Morton and seven other prominent contemporary poets in the American southwest (Baskerville Publishing) Hometown, Texas: Young Poets and Artists Celebrate Their Roots (TCU Press) Constant State of Leaping  (Texas Review Press), Accidental Origami  (Texas Review Press), the award-winning Wooden Lions (Texas Review Press) and the recently-released and long-awaited The National Parks: A Century of Gracecoffee table poetry and photography journey through all 62 National Parks (co-created with fellow Texas Poet Laureate Alan Birkelbach).

An avid photographer, in addition to her National Parks book, she has also had many showings of her black and white artwork, has been nominated for the honor of the Texas 2D Artist and loves to mix poetry with other art forms. No End of Vision: Texas as Seen by Two Laureates, features Ms. Morton’s black and white photography combined with poetry written by 2005 Texas Poet Laureate Alan Birkelbach. A traveling photography and poetry exhibit by the same name is also being shown in museums and galleries throughout Texas.

Her poems have been published in such poetry journals as:  Alaska Quarterly Review, Comstock Review,  Southword Literary Journal, American Life in Poetry: The Poetry Foundation, BoulevardLascaux Review, New Ohio Review,  REAL: RegardingArts and Letters, Southwestern American Literature, Borderlands: Texas Poetry in Reviewdescant (winner of Betsy Colquitt Award), AmarilloBay, the Concho River Review, Right Hand Pointing, Borderlands, The Langdon Review of The Arts, New Texas and ARDENT. Additionally, she is editor of TCU Press' Selected Works of Walt McDonald

Morton loves to promote poetry and serves as a board member of the Greater Denton Arts Council, a founding member of the Denton Poets' Assembly (part of the Poetry Society of Texas) and as a member of the Texas Institute of Letters, the Western Writers of America, the Writer's League of Texas and the Academy of American Poets.

In her role as Texas Poet Laureate, she created the Little Town, Texas Tour, and logged thousands of miles across Texas to take poetry and the arts into schools across the state, focusing particularly on small towns underserved by the arts.

Her latest project is Words of Preservation: A Poets Laureate National Parks Tour.

Morton was born in Fort Worth, holds a Journalism degree from Texas A&M University and currently resides in Fort Worth, Texas.  ​   

about karla

photo: Bill Mackey

The National Parks: A Century of Grace​

Texas Poet Laureate, speaker, author, songwriter and photographer.


Karla is honored that her work has been selected by many high school students in the U.S. for UIL Poetry competitions. Born in 1964, she is considered a contemporary poet.

Click here for a letter stating Karla’s birth date if you are using her work for a UIL competition (and good luck!)