Miles Coon

Miles Coon, founder and festival director of the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, was born in Brooklyn, New York in January 1938 and raised in Great Neck, New York. Coon graduated with the highest honors from the University of Virginia in 1959 with a BA in philosophy and economics. He then graduated from Harvard Law School in 1962. 

Coon served in the U.S. Army Reserve for six months as a medical corpsman after he took the New York State Bar Exam in 1962. He then worked as a trial attorney for the Securities and Exchange Commission from 1963–66 before becoming one of four partners at a New York City-based law firm that he helped to establish, which specialized in securities law. Coon then transitioned to managing his father’s apparel-store supply business, where he remained for thirty years before selling it and devoting himself full-time to poetry. He later earned an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, where he studied with the poets, Malena Morling and Thomas Lux

In 2005, shortly after graduating from Sarah Lawrence, Coon founded the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, which is held in January. In addition to serving as festival director, Coon was also chairman of the board. He led the festival for no compensation and, in 2014, hosted a U.S. poet laureate for the first time when Natasha Trethewey attended as a guest. Other poets laureate, Billy Collins and Robert Pinsky, have since attended the festival.

Coon published the chapbook Homeland Security (Jeanne Duval Editions) in 2005. Shortly after his death, his first full-length collection, The Quotient of My Self Divided By My Self (Press 53), was released in June 2022. 

Coon died on May 21, 2022.