Academy of American Poets Names New Chancellors: Marilyn Nelson, Claudia Rankine, and C.D. WrightNew York, NY (January 16, 2013) – The Academy of American Poets announced today that poets Marilyn Nelson, Claudia Rankine, and C.D. Wright have been elected Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets, joining an illustrious group of some of the most distinguished poets in the United States to have previously held the position, including John Ashbery, W.H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, Lucille Clifton, and Adrienne Rich.
Nelson, Rankine, and Wright were selected by the 15 members of the Academy's current Board of Chancellors, and each will serve for a period of six years. They will act as ambassadors of poetry in the world at large, advocate for the programmatic work of the Academy, consult with the organization on matters of artistic direction and programming, and elect award recipients. They will fill the seats vacated by Lyn Hejinian, Sharon Olds, and Carl Philips, whose terms as Chancellors have concluded.
Marilyn Nelson was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1946. She is the author of over 24 books, including several award-winning books for young adults and translated works. Her latest publication is Faster Than Light: New and Selected Poems, 1996-2011 (Louisiana State University Press, 2012). In 2012, Nelson was awarded the Poetry Society of America's Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry. She is a National Book Award finalist and a Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist. Other honors include two creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship, and a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation. Nelson is a former Poet Laureate of the State of Connecticut and a professor emerita of English at the University of Connecticut.
Academy Chancellor Arthur Sze praised her selection, saying: "Marilyn Nelson's poetry is remarkable for its sheer range of voice and style, for its historical roots, and for its lyrical narratives that, replete with luminous details, unfold with an emotional force that, ultimately, becomes praise. ...She is a vital ambassador of poetry."
The Poetry Society of America is honored to announce that Marilyn Nelson is the 2012 recipient of the organization's highest award, the Frost Medal, presented annually for "distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry." Previous winners of this award include Wallace Stevens, Gwendolyn Brooks, Allen Ginsberg, Marianne Moore, and Charles Simic, who was the 2011 recipient.
The Robert Frost Medal is given by the Poetry Society of America to honor "distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry." Early recipients of this award, inaugurated in 1930 and originally called the Gold Medal, include Robert Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Wallace Stevens, and Marianne Moore. In 1984, to honor Robert Frost's longstanding association with the organization, including his tenure as Honorary President from 1940-1963, the award was renamed and subsequent winners include Gwendolyn Brooks, Denise Levertov, Donald Hall, Adrienne Rich, John Ashbery, Sonia Sanchez, Barbara Guest, Michael S. Harper, and most recently Charles Simic in 2011.
The 2012 Annual Awards ceremony, which will celebrate all the winners of the 14 annual PSA awards, will take place in April in New York City. In keeping with tradition, after the presentation of the Medal, Marilyn Nelson will deliver the Frost Lecture.
The Poetry Society of America, the nation's oldest poetry organization, was founded in 1910 for the purpose of creating a public forum for the advancement, enjoyment, and understanding of poetry. Through a diverse array of programs, initiatives, contests, and awards, the PSA works to build a larger audience for poetry, to encourage a deeper appreciation of the art, and to place poetry at the crossroads of American life.
Connecticut Poet Laureate Marilyn Nelson (2001-2006)
Marilyn Nelson, of Storrs, was appointed State Poet Laureate by
the Connecticut Commission on the Arts on June 28, 2001. She will
serve a five-year term in the honorary position, which was created
by the General Assembly to recognize a Connecticut poet of the
highest distinction. She succeeds Leo Connellan, and his
predecessor, James Merrill.
Marilyn Nelson is the author of six books of poetry, two children's
collections, and several chapbooks. Her work has also appeared in
numerous anthologies and literary collections. She has been
described as "a poet of stunning power, able to bring alive the most
rarified and subtle of experiences."