From 1989 through 2001, William Wadsworth served as the executive director of the Academy of American Poets. Under his direction, the Academy launched a number of important new programs and expanded the awards given to poets.
Wadsworth started National Poetry Month by forging partnerships with publishers, magazines, literary organizations, booksellers, and other groups. National Poetry Month now reaches tens of millions of Americans every April. He also oversaw the creation of Poets.org, the Academy’s award-winning website; the Poetry Audio Archive, which makes the Academy’s historic poetry recordings available to the public; the Poet’s View video series, a Poetry Book Club; Online Poetry Classroom; and many special reading tours and events, including "A Language for Nature: Writers on the Environment" and "Asian and Asian-American Poetry."
Awards that were created or brought under the Academy’s sponsorship during Wadsworth’s tenure include the Wallace Stevens Award, given for mastery in the art of poetry; the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, which recognizes the best book of poetry in a given year; and the Raiziss/DePalchi Translation Award and Fellowship, which recognizes outstanding translations of Italian poetry; among others.