Academy of American Poets Names New Chancellors: Marilyn Nelson, Claudia Rankine, and C. D. Wright

Posted on

Jan 16 2013
New 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."

Claudia Rankine was born in Jamaica in 1963. Rankine is the author of four collections of poetry, including her latest, Don't Let Me Be Lonely (Graywolf, 2004). In 2005 she was selected as the recipient of the Academy of American Poets' Fellowship for distinguished poetic achievement, given in honor of James Ingram Merrill. Rankine has edited numerous anthologies, including American Poets in the Twenty-First Century: The New Poetics (Wesleyan University Press, 2007), and she has written several plays. She has also produced videos in collaboration with John Lucas. A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowments for the Arts and the Lannan Foundation, she is currently the Henry G. Lee Professor of English at Pomona College in Claremont, California.

About Claudia Rankine, Academy Chancellor Mark Doty said: "Claudia Rankine's formally inventive poems investigate many kinds of boundaries: the unsettled territory between poetry and prose, between the word and the visual image, between what it's like to be a subject and the ways we're defined from outside by skin color, economics, and global corporate culture. This fearless poet extends American poetry in invigorating new directions."

C.D. Wright was born in Arkansas in 1949. Wright is the author of more than a dozen books, most recently One With Others (Copper Canyon, 2010) which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Academy of American Poets' Lenore Marshall Prize. Her book Rising, Falling, Hovering (2008) won the Griffin Poetry Prize. Among her numerous honors are fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation. She was also a recipient of the Lannan Literary Award, the Witter Bynner Prize, and the Whiting Award. In 1994 she was named Poet Laureate of Rhode Island. With her husband, poet Forrest Gander, she edits Lost Roads Publishers. Wright teaches at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Academy Chancellor Anne Waldman said of C.D. Wright: "Brilliantly astute, generous, witty, panoramic, celebratory, C.D. Wright is one of our most fearless writers, possessed with an urgency that pierces through the darkness of our time. She carries a particular Southern demographic that bears witness, that investigates history, humanity, and consciousness in powerfully innovative, often breathtaking language. Hers is a necessary poetics, on fire with life and passion for what matters."

For more about chancellorship, including the Academy's current roster of Chancellors, please visit www.poets.org/chancellors.

About the Academy of American Poets The Academy of American Poets is the largest membership-based nonprofit organization fostering an appreciation for contemporary poetry and supporting American poets. For over three generations, the Academy has connected millions of people to great poetry through programs such as National Poetry Month, the largest literary celebration in the world; Poets.org, the Academy's acclaimed website; American Poet, a biannual literary journal; and an annual series of poetry readings and special events. Since its founding in 1934, the Academy has awarded more money to poets than any other organization. For more information, visit: www.poets.org.