Born of American parents but raised and educated in Paris where poetry has long been revered, Marie Bullock married in the early 1930s and moved to New York City. In America, she found a country seemingly indifferent to its own great literary heritage, allowing many of its most illustrious poets to struggle all their lives to support themselves.
So in 1934, with the help of her husband Hugh and friends such as poets Edwin Arlington Robinson and Joseph Auslander, the first Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, Mrs. Bullock formed the Academy of American Poets and began to raise funds.
The mission of the Academy is concise and direct: "to support American poets at all stages of their careers and to foster the appreciation of contemporary poetry." Marie Bullock realized that poets needed more than medals and plaques to survive the Great Depression.
She tirelessly promoted poets and their work, lectured on poetry, and organized radio broadcasts. She set up a contest for an official poem of the New York World's Fair, which was read aloud by Orson Welles. She built a membership base for her new organization and was a strong voice for American literary culture. From the beginning, the Academy flourished because its supporters loved poetry and championed its essential role in our nation's cultural and spiritual life.
In his remarks at a memorial in her honor, the poet Anthony Hecht said "it is impossible to convey the unflagging buoyancy and enthusiasm with which Marie Bullock met every challenge, every potential donor, every poet whether well known or obscure, during the long course of her brilliantly successful crusade in poetry’s behalf." She died on Christmas day in 1986.