Métis storyteller Chris La Tray selected as Montana’s next poet laureate


Chris La Tray didn’t start out wanting to write poetry. He was far more interested in rock n’ roll.

“I was one of those kids who thought I hated poetry because it was incomprehensible, dead white guys. So much is obtuse,” said La Tray, who grew up in Frenchtown and is an enrolled member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians. After graduating high school in 1986, he moved to Seattle, where he began playing in rock bands.

Photo courtesy of Chris Chapman, Northland Studio

Along the way, La Tray found his way to poetry. A Métis storyteller, he shares his life and observations of the world through writing. He’s been back in Montana since 2005, and on Monday, he received a call from Gov. Greg Gianforte, informing La Tray that he’d been selected as Montana’s next poet laureate.

La Tray will serve a two-year term, succeeding Missoula-based poet Mark Gibbons, who was named Montana poet laureate in 2021.

“As a naturalist, a humanist, a humorist, a musician, and a descendant of old Montanans before Montana had a name, I look forward to seeing (and hearing) what Chris does for the next couple years as the keeper of our poetic fire,” Gibbons told me in a story for the Montana Free Press. Read the full article at montanafreepress.org.

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