New York, NY (January 31, 2022)— The Academy of American Poets is honored to announce that Carolyn Forché has been elected its newest Chancellor, a distinction shared by just 120 poets since 1946, when the group was formed to ensure that poets would always be at the heart of the organization. Chancellors Emeriti include Elizabeth Alexander, W. H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, Lucille Clifton, Rita Dove, Yusef Komunyakaa, Claudia Rankine, Adrienne Rich, Naomi Shihab Nye, Mark Strand, and Arthur Sze.
Chancellors serve an active six-year term during which they consult with the organization on artistic matters, judge the organization’s largest legacy prizes for poets, and act as ambassadors of poetry in the world at large. Forché was selected by the current Chancellors—Ellen Bass, Marilyn Chin, Natalie Diaz, Kwame Dawes, Nikky Finney, Forrest Gander, Terrance Hayes, Marie Howe, David St. John, Dorianne Laux, Tracy K. Smith, Natasha Trethewey, Kevin Young, and Brenda Hillman, whose active term has concluded.
“From collections of her own poetry to her groundbreaking anthology Against Forgetting: Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness to her leadership at the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, Carolyn Forché is a poet who has helped us understand, among other things, that some of history is only found in poems. We're deeply grateful to have her join us as a Chancellor,” said Jennifer Benka, President & Executive Director.
“We're absolutely thrilled to have Carolyn Forché as a new Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Along with the other esteemed poets currently serving active terms as Chancellors, Carolyn's experience and expertise will ensure that we stay true to our mission to support poets,” said Tess O'Dwyer, Chair of the Board.
“Carolyn Forché has been an essential American poet of witness throughout the half century since she began publishing poetry. Her lyric, wide-winged poems are far seeing and fierce, even as they are tender, even intimate in her wide cast dream of justice. It is Forché’s bravery that shines through, as she speaks what needs to be spoken no matter the consequences. Her soul-mapping extends to bringing attention to poets around the world who have stood and stand witness to injustice. Her distinguished path is woven of commitment and beauty,” said Joy Harjo, an Academy Chancellor.
About Carolyn Forché
Carolyn Forché was born in Detroit, Michigan. She is a poet, memoirist, translator, and editor. Her books of poetry include In the Lateness of the World (Penguin Press, 2020), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and winner of the American Book Award; Blue Hour (HarperCollins, 2003), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; The Angel of History (HarperCollins, 1994), which received the Los Angeles Times Book Award; The Country Between Us (HarperCollins, 1982), which received the Poetry Society of America's Alice Fay di Castagnola Award and was the Lamont Poetry Selection of the Academy of American Poets; and Gathering the Tribes (Yale University Press, 1976), which was selected for the Yale Series of Younger Poets by Stanley Kunitz. Her memoir What You Have Heard is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance (Penguin Press, 2019) won the Juan E. Mendez Book Award for Human Rights in Latin America. She has translated the poetry of Claribel Alegría, Robert Desnos, Mahmoud Darwish, Fernando Valverde, and Lasse Söderberg, among others. She is also the co-editor, with Duncan Wu, of Poetry of Witness: The Tradition in English, 1500–2001 (W. W. Norton, 2014) and editor of Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness (W. W. Norton, 1993), praised by Nelson Mandela as “itself a blow against tyranny, against prejudice, against injustice.” She is a professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Her honors include fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and the Academy of American Poets. In 2017 she became one of the first two poets to receive the Windham-Campbell Prize from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. In 2020, she received the Lannan Award in Poetry from the Lannan Foundation. Her work has been translated into twenty-four languages. She is a University Professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
About the Academy of American Poets
Founded in 1934, the Academy of American Poets is the nation’s leading champion of poets and poetry with supporters in all fifty states. The organization annually awards more funds to individual poets than any other organization through its prize program, giving a total of $1.25 million to more than 200 poets at various stages of their careers. The organization also produces Poets.org, the world’s largest publicly funded website for poets and poetry; organizes National Poetry Month; publishes the popular Poem-a-Day series and American Poets magazine; provides award-winning resources to K–12 educators, including the Teach This Poem series; hosts an annual series of poetry readings and special events; and coordinates a national Poetry Coalition working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture.