The former Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids, Rodney Torreson (born 1951) grew up on a farm in Iowa and is the author of three books of poetry, most recently A Breathable Light (New Issues Press, 2002). His other full-length collection is The Ripening of Pinstripes: Called Shots on the New York Yankees (Story Line Press, 1998), which was the runner-up for the Roerich Prize for first books. He has also published a chapbook, On a Moonstruck Gravel Road (Juniper Press, 1994).
Recently two of his poems have been featured in Ted Kooser's nationally syndicated newspaper column, American Life in Poetry. Over the years his work has appeared in many anthologies and magazines; in addition he was the recipient of the Bentley Prize for Poetry from the Seattle Review.
Since 1976, he has taught writing to elementary and intermediate grades at Immanuel-St. James Lutheran School in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He also heads several groups of young writers from elementary to college age, who meet at area restaurants once a week throughout the year. For nearly thirty years his students have published widely and consistently been winners in regional poetry contests, as well as several national competitions including ones sponsored by VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates) and the Odyssey Foundation for Teens.
Torreson and a group of students developed Through the Third Eye as an online poetry magazine by and for youth. It debuted in early April 2008.
The Humanities Council appoints the Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids to a two-year term.