New York, NY (January 24, 2023)—The Academy of American Poets is honored to announce that Kimiko Hahn, Ilya Kaminsky, Ed Roberson, and Patricia Smith have been elected to its fifteen-member Board of Chancellors.
“All that we publish, program, and promote at the Academy of American Poets is fueled by the collective wisdom, imagination, and expertise of our Chancellors,” said Tess O’Dwyer, Chair of the Board. “It’s exhilarating to congratulate poets extraordinaire Kimiko Hahn, Ilya Kaminsky, Ed Roberson, and Patricia Smith on their election and welcome them into the leadership of the Academy.”
These four new Chancellors were selected by current Chancellors Marilyn Chin, Kwame Dawes, Natalie Diaz, Nikky Finney, Carolyn Forché, Joy Harjo, Marie Howe, Dorianne Laux, Tracy K. Smith, Natasha Trethewey, and Kevin Young, as well as Ellen Bass, Forrest Gander, Terrance Hayes, and David St. John, whose terms have since concluded.
Chancellors serve six-year terms during which they consult with the organization on artistic matters, judge the organization’s largest legacy prizes for American poets, and act as ambassadors of poetry in the world at large.
Since 1946, 125 distinguished poets have been elected to this esteemed position, including Chancellors Emeriti Elizabeth Alexander, W. H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, Lucille Clifton, Rita Dove, Yusef Komunyakaa, Naomi Shihab Nye, Claudia Rankine, Adrienne Rich, Charles Simic, Mark Strand, and Arthur Sze.
About Kimiko Hahn
Hahn is the author of ten collections of poetry, including Foreign Bodies (W. W. Norton, 2020) and The Unbearable Heart (Kaya Production, 1995), which received an American Book Award. She frequently draws on, and even reinvents, classic forms and techniques such as the zuihitsu, as popularized by The Pillow Book by Sei Shōnagon. In recent years, she has explored forms that give a nod to past writers, such as the glosa and golden shovel.
Academy Chancellor Marilyn Chin says, “Kimiko Hahn is a distinguished poet, teacher, and arts activist who has written more than eight books that explore female desire and subjectivity with an experimental broad brush. Some of her innovative poems include adapting the Japanese form the Zuihuitsu and using a fast-brush diary mode that mimics the daily trials of women. She has also experimented with film and other mixed media ventures in her multifaceted poetic journey.”
Hahn is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She is also the recipient of the PEN/Voelcker Award, the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize, and an Association of Asian American Studies Literature Award, among other honors. She is a distinguished professor in the MFA program of creative writing and literary translation at Queens College, the City University of New York.
About Ilya Kaminsky
Kaminsky is the author of Deaf Republic (Graywolf Press, 2019), winner of the Anisfield-Wolf and Los Angeles Times Book Awards and finalist for the National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, and T. S. Eliot Prize. Kaminsky is also an editor and translator of many books, including Dark Elderberry Branch: Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva (Alice James Books, 2012) and The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry (Harper Collins, 2010).
Academy Chancellor Kwame Dawes says, “Ilya Kaminsky is rightfully recognized as a vital voice in the world of poetry and one of the most brilliant poets working today. Kaminsky’s latest book Deaf Republic is a tour de force of poetic imagination and moral force—his is poetry for our moment, and yet, in his work, we sense a more timeless impulse—a reach for something urgent and essential. His poetry makes clear that he is convinced that poetry will have to find a way to speak to the challenging political moments of our lives. And in this regard, he understands something profoundly necessary about what it means to try to be a writer of poems in times of crisis. Above all, the poetry of Ilya Kaminsky is the poetry of a poet who embraces his role as a purveyor of beauty in the world. Kaminsky brings a well-developed and long practiced ambassadorial role to the chancellorship, and his generous knowledge of American poetry today, and his care for American poets and poets the world over will define his tenure on the Academy of American Poets.”
Kaminsky’s other awards and honors include the Lannan Literary Fellowship, the Whiting Writers’ Award for Poetry, and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship. In 2019, he received the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, which recognizes distinguished poetic achievement. He currently teaches at Princeton University. Kaminsky was the Guest Editor for Poem-a-Day in December 2021.
About Ed Roberson
Roberson is the author of many poetry collections, including Aquarium Works (Nion Editions, 2022); Asked What Has Changed (Wesleyan University Press, 2022), a finalist for the Griffin Poetry Prize; and MPH and Other Road Poems (Verge Books, 2021). Roberson’s poetry has also appeared in The Best American Poetry 2004 and Primary Trouble: An Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry.
Academy Chancellor Nikky Finney says, “Ed Roberson has been sending out passionate poetic reports for five decades. I have needed each assemblage and dispatch offered. Poetry has also needed them. His deep attentiveness to how the world connects and disconnects has long been one of my satellites. We, the people, especially now, need his softly spoken words on how finally, the high-ranking humans are ‘destroying their chance at the beautiful.’ Roberson is one of our most precious human lenses. He battles our historical and modern-day blindness by delicately moving our fingers to the face of the planet. His words ask us to feel what is there. Maybe it happened while he was working at the Pittsburgh AquaZoo (now the Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium), when he saw the poetic alignments between the two-armed brothers living in the water tank streets of Chicago and the eight-armed brothers living in the un-private filtered waters of the zoo. Maybe it happened while he was studying the architecture of painting or perhaps it was while he was training porpoises? Ed Roberson knows when to let the wild alone in the world and when to enjamb it. Precious practitioner of life, Ed Roberson.”
A recipient of the Jackson Poetry Prize and the Stephen Henderson Critics Award for Achievement in Literature, Roberson has also won a Los Angeles Times Book Award, the 2008 Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, and numerous other accolades. In 2017, he received the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, which recognizes distinguished poetic achievement. Roberson is currently artist-in-residence at Northwestern University.
About Patricia Smith
Patricia Smith, poet, teacher, and performance artist, is a winner of the Poetry Foundation’s 2021 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement. She is the author of numerous collections, including Unshuttered (Northwestern University Press, 2023); Incendiary Art (Northwestern University Press, 2017), winner of the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and the 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Award in poetry, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry; Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah (Coffee House Press, 2012), winner of the 2013 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; and Blood Dazzler (Coffee House Press, 2008), which was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award. She also edited the crime fiction anthology Staten Island Noir (Akashic Books, 2012).
Academy Chancellor Carolyn Forché says, "Patricia Smith is among the most gifted and revered of American poets, whose powerful testimonial art addresses the brutalities of racism, the precarity of Black youth, and the vibrant cultural life of urban communities. She is a poet of rare formal range, vibrant diction, and dramatic virtuosity. Among her stunning collections, Blood Dazzler is rightfully regarded as a masterpiece of poetic response to historical tragedy. Already recognized for her artistry throughout the world, she will bring to the Academy of American Poets a knowledge of what is at stake in the literary art of our moment."
Smith is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, a Cave Canem faculty member, and a professor of creative writing at the City University of New York and Princeton University. In February 2023, Smith will serve as Guest Editor of the Poem-a-Day series.
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 and beyond. The organization annually awards $1.3+ million to more than two hundred poets at various stages of their careers through its prize and fellowship programs. The organization also produces Poets.org, the world’s largest publicly funded website for poets and poetry; established and organizes National Poetry Month each April; publishes the popular Poem-a-Day series and American Poets magazine; provides free resources to K–12 educators, including the award-winning weekly Teach This Poem series; hosts an annual series of poetry readings, and special events; and coordinates a national Poetry Coalition that promotes the value poets bring to our culture. To learn more about the Academy of American Poets, including its staff, its Board of Directors, and its Board of Chancellors, visit: https://poets.org/.