FAQ

 
  1. What is the Academy of American Poets?
  2. How old is the Academy?
  3. Who started the Academy?
  4. Why was the Academy needed?
  5. Who was the first executive director of the Academy?
  6. What does the Academy do today?
  7. Who pays for all these programs?
  8. Who runs the Academy?
  9. Who works at the Academy?
  10. How can I get more involved?
  11. Are there jobs available?
  12. How do I access the Academy's audited financial statement and IRS form 990?

 


What is 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 popular website; American Poets, a biannual literary journal; and an annual series of poetry readings and special events. Since its founding, the Academy has awarded more money to poets than any other organization.

How old is the Academy? The Academy was founded in 1934 in New York City and it was officially incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1936.

Who started the Academy? Mrs. Marie Bullock, at age twenty-three, founded the Academy of American Poets and served as its president for the following fifty years. During the first thirty years, Mrs. Bullock operated the Academy out of her apartment, centering on a core program of awards to poets. When she passed away in 1986, poet Anthony Hecht said this about Mrs. Bullock: "It is impossible to convey the unflagging buoyancy and enthusiasm with which Marie Bullock met every challenge during the long course of her brilliantly successful crusade on poetry's behalf. She was a gallant, devoted, and generous champion of a cause that had few champions before her, and none so successful. American poetry and their readers are all in her debt."

Why was the Academy needed? When Mrs. Bullock returned to the United States from her studies at the Sorbonne in Paris, she was dismayed to find a comparative indifference toward poetry in our country. Concerned about the lack of financial support given to poets in America and their inability to make a living from their art, she decided to take action. With the advice of friends such as poets Edwin Arlington Robinson and Joesph Auslander (the first Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress), Mrs. Bullock drew up the plans and started raising funds to nurture the cause of poetry and the survival of individual poets.

Who was the first executive director of the Academy? Elizabeth Kray was hired in 1963 as the Academy's first executive director. Betty Kray was a legendary promoter of poetry, especially through poetry readings; during her tenure at the Academy she was instrumental in putting both the organization and the art of poetry on the cultural map. Under Betty's leadership, the Academy launched a groundbreaking reading series at the Guggenheim Museum (1963), the first national touring circuits for poets (1965), the first Poets-in-the-Schools program (1966), the Walt Whitman Award (1975), and the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award (1976).

What does the Academy do today? Today, the Academy fulfills the first portion of its original mission ("to support American poets at all stages of their careers") by administering seven major awards—from a first-book prize through a lifetime-achievement award—and nearly two hundred College Prizes at schools across the country. To fulfill the second half our mission ("to foster the appreciation of contemporary poetry"), the Academy administers several programs: Poets.org, this award-winning website which was launched in 1997 and now receives one million unique visitors each month; National Poetry Month (April), established by the Academy in 1996 and now the largest literary celebration in the world; our Summer Reading Series, through which we host a diverse lineup of poets sharing their work at historic New York City locales; Poets Forum, our three-day conference in New York City that explores the ever-changing landscape of contemporary poetry in America; and American Poets, our biannual literary journal and magazine for members.

Who pays for all these programs? The Academy is supported by the financial contributions of nearly 8,000 individuals (our members) nationwide. We also receive funding from private foundations, corporations, and government sources such as the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Who runs the Academy? As a nonprofit organization, the Academy is overseen by a governing Board of Directors. Our day-to-day operations and our programs—including Poets.org, National Poetry Month, and Awards & Prizes—are carried out by the Academy's staff.

Who works at the Academy? The staff members of the Academy of American Poets represent a wide range of skills, expertise, and backgrounds, yet all share a passionate dedication to advancing the place of poetry in American culture. Many of the staff members are writers, literary journal editors, graduates of MFA programs, and former literature and writing teachers. A number of established writers have worked at the Academy in the past, both as interns and full-time staff, including William WadsworthGabrielle CalvocoressiHenri Cole, Jeffrey Eugenides, Liam RectorMatthew RohrerBrenda Shaughnessy, Julie Sheehan, and Mark Wunderlich.

How can I get more involved? There are several ways to get involved with the Academy of American Poets: 1) become a card-carrying, dues-paying member to show your support for this great American art form and to receive special benefits, 2) attend one of the Academy's many poetry events and readings (members receive discounts), 3) purchase poetry-related merchandise from our online Poets Shop, and 4) sign up for our free monthly enewsletter, which provides poetry news and information about Academy events and programs.

Are there jobs available? When the Academy has employment opportunities available, they will be listed on our Job Openings page, as well as on www.idealist.org and www.mediabistro.com.

How do I access the Academy's audited financial statement and IRS form 990? To request copies of these documents, please contact us by calling (212) 274-0343 or emailing academy@poets.org.