Dorianne Laux and Kevin Young Named Academy of American Poets Chancellors

New York, NY (January 14, 2020)— The Academy of American Poets is pleased to announce that Dorianne Laux and Kevin Young have been elected to its Board of Chancellors, a distinction shared by just 115 poets since the board was formed in 1946. Chancellors Emeriti include W. H. Auden, John AshberyElizabeth BishopLucille Clifton, Rita DoveYusef Komunyakaa, Claudia RankineAdrienne Rich, Naomi Shihab NyeMark Strand, and Arthur Sze

As Chancellors, Laux and Young will consult with the organization on matters of artistic programming, serve as judges for the organization’s largest legacy prizes for poets, and act as ambassadors of poetry in the world at large. The new Chancellors were selected by the current members—Elizabeth AlexanderEllen BassMarilyn ChinKwame DawesForrest GanderLinda GregersonTerrance HayesBrenda HillmanMarie HoweDavid St. John, Alicia Ostriker, and Natasha Trethewey—and will be filling the seats vacated by Khaled Mattawa and Alberto Ríos, whose six-year terms have concluded. 

"We're honored to have Dorianne and Kevin as new Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets. Their participation, along with that of the other esteemed poets currently serving as Chancellors, ensures that poets remain at the heart of all we publish, program, and promote,” said Jennifer Benka, Academy executive director. 

About the New Chancellors

On January 10, 1952, Dorianne Laux was born in Augusta, Maine. She received a BA in English from Mills College in 1988.

Laux is the author of Only as the Day Is Long: New and Selected Poems (W. W. Norton, 2019), The Book of Women (Red Dragonfly Press, 2012); The Book of Men (W.W. Norton, 2011), which won The Paterson Prize and The Roanoke-Chowan Award; Facts About the Moon (W. W. Norton, 2005), which was the recipient of the Oregon Book Award chosen by Ai, and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Lenore Marshall Poetry PrizeSmoke (BOA Editions, 2000); What We Carry (BOA Editions, 1994), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Awake (BOA Editions, 1990), which was nominated for the San Francisco Bay Area Book Critics Award for Poetry. 

Academy Chancellor Marie Howe says, "Dorianne Laux has been writing powerful poems for over 30 years. She is a poet of the people, the heroic often unseen working people who come home tired, and wake up tired the next morning: the steamfitters and plumbers and cooks, the women carrying crying babies across parking lots to drop them off before going to work as waitresses, the high school girls seeking refuge where there is no refuge. She is woman writing from a woman’s life: a poet of the erotic, of sexual love and loss, and of that life force that wrestles with the grit and confusion of daily life and finds sudden grace in the mix. She has always been brave, writing into shadowed subjects to shine the light there. Her poems are fierce incantations to staying alive; necessary and indelible." 

Laux is also coauthor (with Kim Addonizio) of The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry (W.W. Norton, 1997). Among her awards are a Pushcart Prize, an Editor's Choice III Award, The Best American Poetry in 1999, 2006 and 2013, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She has taught at the University of Oregon's Program in Creative Writing. She now lives with her husband, poet Joseph Millar, in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she teaches in the MFA program at North Carolina State University.

Kevin Young was born in 1970 in Lincoln, Nebraska. He received his BA from Harvard University in 1992, where he studied poetry with Lucie Brock-Broido and Seamus Heaney, and his MFA in creative writing from Brown University in 1996.

His poetry collections include Brown (Alfred A. Knopf, 2018); Blue Laws: Selected and Uncollected Poems, 1995-2015 (Alfred A. Knopf, 2016); Book of Hours (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014), winner of the Lenore Marshall Poetry PrizeArdency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels (Alfred A. Knopf, 2011); Dear Darkness: Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2008); For the Confederate Dead (Alfred A. Knopf, 2007); Black Maria (Alfred A. Knopf, 2005); Jelly Roll: A Blues (Alfred A. Knopf, 2003); To Repel Ghosts (Zoland Books, 2001), which was a finalist for the James Laughlin Award; and Most Way Home (Steerforth, 1995), selected for the National Poetry Series and winner of the Zacharis First Books Award from Ploughshares.

Academy Chancellor Natasha Trethewey says of Young: "Across his distinguished career, in poems both playful and infused with gravitas, Kevin Young has wrought a rich and compelling catalogue of American life and culture, with the lives African Americans at the center. His poems are brilliant, musically stunning, ambitious and wide-ranging. Through his remarkable work—his poems and his service—he has made an indelible contribution to American poetry."

Young's awards and honors include fellowships from Stanford University, the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He has taught at the University of Georgia, Indiana University, and Emory University, where he was the Charles Howard Candler professor of creative writing and English and curator of literary collections at the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library. He is the director of the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the poetry editor of The New Yorker. He lives in New Jersey.

About the Academy of American Poets

The Academy of American Poets is the nation’s leading champion of poets and poetry with members in all fifty states. Founded in 1934, the organization produces Poets.org, the world’s largest publicly funded website for poets and poetry; National Poetry Month; the popular Poem-a-Day series; American Poets magazine; Teach This Poem and other award-winning resources for K-12 educators; and an annual series of poetry readings and special events. In addition, the Academy of American Poets coordinates a national Poetry Coalition working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and the important contribution poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. This year the organization has awarded more funds to poets than any other organization, giving a total of $1,250,000 to poets at various stages of their careers.