United States Poet Laureate
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United States Poet Laureate

The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress--commonly referred to as the United States Poet Laureate--serves as the official poet of the United States. During their term, the Poet Laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry. The position was modeled on the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom. Begun in 1937, and formerly known as the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, the present title was devised and authorized by an Act of Congress in 1985. The Poet Laureate's office is administered by the Center for the Book. For children's poets, the Poetry Foundation awards the Young People's Poet Laureate.[1]

The incumbent Poet Laureate (since 2019) is Joy Harjo.


The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry is appointed annually by the Librarian of the United States Congress and serves from October to May. In making the appointment, the Librarian consults with current and former laureates and other distinguished personalities in the field.

Currently, the laureate receives a $35,000 annual stipend, endowed by a gift from Archer M. Huntington. On October 3, 1985, the U.S. Congress passed legislation authored by Senator Spark M. Matsunaga of Hawaii changing the title of the position to Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.[2] The Library minimizes assigned duties, to allow incumbents to pursue their own projects while at the Library. The laureate presents an annual lecture and reading of his or her poetry and usually introduces poets at the Library's poetry series, the oldest in the Washington area and among the oldest in the United States. This annual series of public poetry and fiction readings, lectures, symposia, and occasional dramatic performances began in the 1940s. Collectively the laureates have brought more than 2,000 poets and authors to the Library to read for the Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature.

Each consultant has brought a different emphasis to the position. Maxine Kumin started a popular series of poetry workshops for women at the Library of Congress. Gwendolyn Brooks met with elementary school students to encourage them to write poetry. Joseph Brodsky initiated the idea of providing poetry in airports, supermarkets, and hotel rooms. Rita Dove, considered the first activist poet laureate, brought together writers to explore the African diaspora through the eyes of its artists, championed children's poetry and jazz with poetry events and read at the White House during Bill Clinton's first state dinner. Robert Hass organized a watershed conference that brought together popular novelists, poets, and storytellers to talk about writing, nature, and community, and co-founded the River of Words K-12 international children's poetry and art contest.[3]Robert Pinsky initiated the Favorite Poem Project. Billy Collins's "Poetry 180" project distributed a poem to all high schools for every day of the school year. These poems were also collected and published in two anthologies.

Lists of appointees

Consultants in Poetry

Each year links to its corresponding "[year] in poetry" article:

Poet Laureate Consultants in Poetry

Each year links to its corresponding "[year] in poetry" article:

Special Consultants in Poetry

1999-2000 (for Library of Congress' 200th Anniversary) Rita Dove, Louise Glück, and W. S. Merwin

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress.

  1. ^ Paige Bentley-Flannery (May 26, 2017). "Young People's Poet Laureate". Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). Retrieved 2018.
  2. ^ McGuire, William (1988). Poetry's Catbird Seat: The Consultantship in Poetry in the English language at the Library of Congress, 1937-1987 (Library of Congress, Washington, D. C.). ISBN 0-8444-0586-8.
  3. ^ "River of Words". Saint Mary's College. Retrieved 2012.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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