The Academy of American Poets is pleased to announce its 2021 Poets Laureate Fellows. These 23 individuals serve as Poets Laureate of states and cities across the U. S. and will be leading public poetry programs in their respective communities in the year ahead. The Fellows will each receive $50,000 (or $25,000 each in the case of the shared Poet Laureate position in Montana) for a combined total of $1.1 million. In addition, the Academy will provide $100,000+ total to 14 local 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations that have agreed to support the Fellows’ proposed projects.
“As we begin emerging from COVID-19 restrictions, poetry, which has provided such comfort these past fifteen months, will continue to be a source of insight. We are honored and humbled to fund poets who are devoted to their own craft and also their community. Poets will most certainly help guide us forward,” said Jennifer Benka, President and Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets.
Through its Poets Laureate Fellowship program, the Academy has become the largest financial supporter of poets in the nation. The fellowship program is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which, in January of 2020, awarded the Academy $4.5 million to fund the program.
“These 23 Poets Laureate Fellows will lead an extraordinary range of public poetry programs,” said Elizabeth Alexander, poet and President of the Mellon Foundation. “We are delighted to support them as they create their own poems, collaborate with other artists, and center poetry in their engagement with communities across our vast country—from urban to rural counties—while we collectively begin to process and reflect on the exceptional crises of the past year."
The 2021 Poets Laureate Fellows and the communities they serve are Marcus Amaker (Charleston, SC), Semaj Brown (Flint, MI), Roscoe Burnems (Richmond, VA), Aileen Cassinetto (San Mateo County, CA), Leslie Contreras Schwartz (Houston, TX), Magdalena Gómez (Springfield, MA), Georgina Marie Guardado (Lake County, CA), Chasity Gunn (Elgin, IL), Kari Gunter-Seymour (Ohio), Luisa A. Igloria (Virginia), Angela Jackson (Illinois), Dasha Kelly Hamilton (Milwaukee, WI and Wisconsin state), Melissa Kwasny and M.L. Smoker (Montana), Bobby LeFebre (Colorado), Debra Marquart (Iowa), Trapeta B. Mayson (Philadelphia, PA), Anis Mojgani (Oregon), Chelsea Rathburn (Georgia), Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson (San Antonio, TX), Lloyd Schwartz (Somerville, MA), M. Bartley Seigel (Upper Peninsula, MI), and Brian Sonia-Wallace (West Hollywood, CA).