Poets Laureate of the United States of America

Poets Laureate of the United States of America
by J. Zimmerman

* History. * FAQs. * Notes on the Laureated Poets. * Non-Laureated Poets.
* Alphabetic List. * Chronological List.
* Pulitzer Prize Winners. * Links. * Books.

Alphabetic List of the Poets Laureate of the United States of America.

Chronological List of the Poets Laureate of the United States of America.
  1. Robert Penn Warren (1986-1987)
  2. Richard Wilbur (1987-1988)
  3. Howard Nemerov (1988-1990)
  4. Mark Strand (1990-1991)
  5. Joseph Brodsky (1991-1992)
  6. Mona Van Duyn (1992-1993)
  7. Rita Dove (1993-1995)
  8. Robert Hass (1995-1997)
  9. Robert Pinsky (1997-2000)
  10. Stanley Kunitz (2000-2001)
  11. Billy Collins (2001-2003)
  12. Louise Glück (2003-2004)
  13. Ted Kooser (2004-2006)
  14. Donald Hall (2006-2007)
  15. Charles Simic (2007-2008)
  16. Kay Ryan (2008-2010)
  17. W.S. Merwin (2010-2013)
  18. Levine, Philip (2011-2012)
  19. Trethewey, Natasha (2012-2014)
  20. Wright, Charles (2014-present)

Buy 'Nine Horses' Nine Horses (2003) by Billy Collins (a previous poet laureate).

History and responsibilities.

In the United States of America, the post of "Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry" was established in 1985, copying the title from the Poets Laureate of Britain.

The USA Poet Laureate is:

Before that, from 1937 to 1985, the Librarian of Congress had authority to appoint someone to Library of Congress Poetry Position, the post of "Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress." The name was changed by an act of Congress in 1985.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) on the Poets Laureate of the United States of America.

  1. What does "Laureate" mean?
    The name Laureate derives from the Latin laureatus ("crowned with laurel"). It comes from an ancient Roman tradition of honoring a person (especially a poet) who has shown excellence of achievement. The honor is signified by presenting the person with a wreath of laurel leaves.

  2. Even though the Poets Laureate are not political appointees, don't they just echo the administrations policies?
    No, they express their own opinions. For example:
    • Poet Laureate Billy Collins and former U.S. Poet Laureate Richard Wilbur (with others) signed an anti-war petition in January 2003, opposing the administrations intended invasion of Iraq.
    • First Lady Laura Bush (see White House Fears Poetry) canceled a poetry symposium she had planned for February 12, 2003 "Poetry and the American Voice," for discussions of the works of Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, and Walt Whitman. Former Poets Laureate Stanley Kunitz and Rita Dove were among those who declined to attend.

    In February 2003 a web report at http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0206-07.htm showed the following:
    Published on Thursday, February 6, 2003 by the Associated Press
    U.S. Poet Laureate Opposes War with Iraq
    by Hillel Italie
    NEW YORK - The threatened war with Iraq has politicized the nation's poets,
    starting at the very top.
    In comments rarely heard from a sitting U.S. poet laureate, Billy Collins
    has publicly declared his opposition to war and says he finds it
    increasingly difficult to keep politics out of his official job as literary
    A spokeswoman for the Library of Congress said Tuesday that Mr. Collins is
    free to express his own opinions on any subject.
    Collins, whose books include Questions About Angels and Nine Horses, is
    a mostly introspective poet who doesn't have a history of political
    activism. But he defended anti-war poets who last week caused the White
    House to postpone a symposium sponsored by first lady Laura Bush.
    "If political protest is urgent, I don't think it needs to wait for an
    appropriate scene and setting and should be as disruptive as it wants to
    be," Collins said in a recent e-mail to The Associated Press.
    "I have tried to keep the West Wing and the East Wing of the White House as
    separate as possible because I support what Mrs. Bush has done for the
    causes of literacy and reading. But as this country is being pushed into a
    violent confrontation, I find it increasingly difficult to maintain that

Sketches on the Poets Laureate of the United States of America, in chronological order

Also, see our lists of Poets Laureate in Alphabetic Sequence.

Each Laureate brings a different emphasis to the position.

Not-quite Poets Laureate of the United States of America: the Consultants in Poetry to the Library of Congress.

From 1937 to 1985, the Librarian of Congress had authority to appointed the following to the "Library of Congress Poetry Position."


Related Books.

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