The 2021 Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowships are $50,000 awards given to honor poets of literary merit appointed to serve in civic positions and to enable them to undertake meaningful, impactful, and innovative projects that engage their fellow residents, including youth, with poetry, helping to address issues important to their communities. 

We are accepting applications for the 2021 fellowships from December 17, 2020 until February 23, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. EST.

To submit an application, please visit:



Any poet who meets the below criteria as of January 1, 2021 in the fellowship award year is eligible:

  1. 21 years of age or older; 

  2. Appointed as an official Poet Laureate of a state, city, county, U.S. territory, or Tribal nation by a Governor, State Arts or Humanities Council, State Poet Laureate Commission, Tribe President, Mayor, City Council, City Poet Laureate Commission, City Arts Board, County Arts Board, or a city’s public library system; 

  3. Your service as Poet Laureate occurring sometime between January 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022; 

  4. Published one or more collections of poetry (excluding books that are self-published and/or published with a subsidy press that requires payment by the author) or substantial history of public spoken word performances;

  5. Substantial publication history in a variety of journals and media, or of public spoken word performances; 

  6. Recognition in the field (including literary awards, prizes, grants, residencies, and fellowships);

  7. Demonstrated commitment to promoting awareness of poetry; and

  8. Correctly completed application submitted by the deadline.

Please note: Poets laureate within a state may submit a collaborative application. We encourage you to contact us at [email protected] before doing so. 

Please also note: By law the Academy of American Poets must report cash prizes awarded to individuals to the Internal Revenue Service. If individuals have a Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), the individual will receive a 1099. If the individual does not have an SSN or ITIN, the individual will receive a 1042 and could be subject to a withholding of a percentage of the cash award.


Submissions guidelines

Please upload to Submittable the following:

  1. Your curriculum vitae (no more than three pages), which includes your name and current contact information, and information such as your current and past employment, publication history, awards, performances and readings, past public poetry projects, and education. We encourage you to include links to your recent publications and performances in your CV; 

  2. a 1- to 2-page detailed description of your proposed civic project(s), including a timeline for the project(s) you would conduct between July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022, that engages youth and/or address important statewide or local issues, including the anticipated reach or impact (please see the 2019 and 2020 cohorts of Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellows and their projects);

  3. a budget for your proposed civic project(s). Please see a budget template here and note that in 2021, the total Fellowship award is $50,000. Your civic project budget does not include an honorarium for your time working on your civic project(s), and should not exceed $15,000. The remainder of the fellowship funds is intended to support your honorarium for your time working on your civic project(s), as well as your own literary work;

  4. Two letters of recommendation from individuals who can attest to your ability and capacity to carry out your proposed project or projects, and their contact information.

  5. If you are able to secure an in-kind match from local 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, of which you are not employed, of up to a total of $10,000 in support of your project, the Academy will match that amount in a financial contribution to the nonprofits if you are awarded an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship. Please provide a letter from the nonprofit organizations, which includes their contact information, confirming the details of their contribution. We encourage collaborations with the State Centers for the Book

  6. Alternatively, if you are able to secure a contribution of up to a total of $10,000 in cash in support of your project from a local foundation(s) or business(es) (not owned or operated by a relative and with a legitimate physical address, phone number, and website), we will provide a matching amount to you after their disbursement in addition to fellowship funds if you are awarded an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship. Please provide a letter from the foundation(s) or business(es), which includes their contact information, confirming the details of their contribution. 

Online submissions are accepted for the 2021 Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowships through our submission manager, Submittable. For questions about using Submittable, please visit: If you need accommodation for accessibility, please contact [email protected].

The Academy of American Poets assumes no responsibility for applications not received due to user error. Applicants may verify the receipt of their manuscript by logging into Submittable.

All applicants will be notified of the award results by email by April 30, 2021. 

All correspondence concerning the fellowships and applications should be addressed to the Academy of American Poets. Current Poets Laureate with questions about this opportunity are encouraged to contact [email protected]

The decisions of the Academy of American Poets as to eligibility are final.