Since the Academy of American Poets’ earliest days, it has been core to our mission to celebrate contemporary poets, as well as the poets long passed who have shaped American poetry. We were the first organization to offer a major prize to a poet for his or her body of work, not a particular book or poem. And now, each year, we offer more than $200,000 to poets through our American Poets Prizes.
Over the past two years, we have seen how poems have become particularly relevant to current events, public debate, and social change movements. It is more true than ever that when we face moments of crisis, thousands of people swarm Poets.org seeking poems that offer language to help translate challenging circumstances, provide unique insight, inspire empathy, give comfort, express frustration, and spark hope.
Less than a year after the term "internet" was defined in 1995, the Academy of American Poets became the first poetry organization to launch a website. Poets.org, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, rolled out with a comprehensive suite of poetry resources for K-12 teachers, essays, poets biographies, and poems. We knew then, as we know now, that poetry is the perfect art form for the digital age. Text-based, compact, and highly shareable, today, poems are reaching more readers than ever before.