Naomi Shihab Nye and Marie Ponsot Elected Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets

Posted on

Jan 11 2010

New York, January 11—Tree Swenson, Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets, announced that Naomi Shihab Nye and Marie Ponsot have been elected to the Board of Chancellors, the Academy's advisory board of distinguished poets.

They were elected by current Academy Chancellors Frank Bidart, Victor Hernández Cruz, Rita Dove, Marilyn Hacker, Lyn Hejinian, Edward Hirsch, Sharon Olds, Ron Padgett, Carl Phillips, Robert Pinsky, Kay Ryan, Gary Snyder, Gerald Stern, Susan Stewart, Ellen Bryant Voigt, and C. K. Williams.

Naomi Shihab Nye was born in St. Louis in 1952. She received a B.A. in English and World Religions from Trinitiy University in San Antonio, Texas. Her numerous books of poetry, include You and Yours (BOA Editions, 2005), which received the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East (2002), and Fuel (1998). She is also the author of award-winning children's books, the most recent of which is Honeybee (Greenwillow Books, 2008), which won a 2008 Arab American Book Award in the Children's/Young Adult category.

Among Nye's awards and honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lannan Fellowship, and four Pushcart Prizes. In 1988 she received the Academy of American Poets' Lavan Younger Poets Award, selected by W. S. Merwin. She has been a visiting writer at the Michener Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Hawai'i. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas.

About Nye's poetry, Academy Chancellor Edward Hirsch recently said:

A resident of Texas, a citizen of the world, Naomi Shihab Nye is a deeply humane poet whose work crosses borders and lifts spirits. She nourishes intimacy and fosters understanding. She is also a beloved writer and indefatigable anthologist for children, preteens, and young-adults, who flies what she calls the flag of childhood.


Marie Ponsot was born in New York City in 1921. Her first poetry collection, True Minds, was published in Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights series in 1956. She is the author of several books of poems, including Easy (Knopf, 2009), Springing (2002), and The Bird Catcher (1998), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets.

Ponsot, who also translates books from the French, has taught in graduate programs at Columbia University, New York University, Queens College, Beijing United University, and the Poetry Center of the YMHA. Among her awards are a creative writing grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America, and the Shaughnessy Medal from the Modern Language Association. Ponsot currently teaches in the graduate writing program at New School University.

About Ponsot's poetry, Academy Chancellor Susan Stewart recently wrote:

If you've ever found a line of sweet water running through salt water, or spied a red thread running through a dull nest, or felt a breeze inside an unforgiving wind, you know something of the way the poems of Marie Ponsot penetrate the ordinary noise of our time. What she has written of her relation to the night sky—'it becomes the infinite / air of imagination that stirs immense / among losses and leaves me less desolate'—could be claimed by her readers as a description of her own work, which pulls us always to forms of thought and attention that surprise and enlarge and cheer us.

For more information about these poets and to read samples of their work, please visit www.poets.org.

The Board of Chancellors was established in 1946 by the Academy's founder, Marie Bullock, who said that:

[Chancellors] must be chosen from amongst literary persons of the highest standing. They must themselves be known for their good judgment and eminent integrity of opinion. They should geographically represent the entire United States, so that their choices will be representative of the nation as a whole, and not of one trend of thought, or literary clique, or section."

The Academy of American Poets' Board of Chancellors elects the recipients of the Wallace Stevens Award and the Academy of American Poets Fellowship. They also act as consultants to the organization on matters of artistic direction and programming and serve as ambassadors of poetry in the world at large. Previous Chancellors of the Academy have included Marianne Moore, W.H. Auden, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, John Berryman, Robert Penn Warren, and James Merrill, among others.

About the Academy of American Poets

The Academy of American Poets is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1934 to foster appreciation for contemporary poetry and to support American poets at all stages of their careers. 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 most popular site about poetry on the web, presenting a wealth of great poems, poet biographies, essays, and interactive discussions about poetry; the Poetry Audio Archive, capturing the voices of contemporary American poets for generations to come; American Poet, a biannual literary journal; and an annual series of poetry readings and special events. The Academy also awards prizes to accomplished poets at all stages of their careers—from hundreds of student prizes at colleges nationwide to the Wallace Stevens Award for lifetime achievement in the art of poetry. For more information, visit www.poets.org.