Chancellor Conversations: Poetry & Social Change

Join Academy of American Poets Chancellors Natalie DiazNikky FinneyJoy HarjoTracy K. Smith, The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Executive Director Kyle Dacuyan, and award-winning author Eve L. Ewing for a virtual conversation on the unique role that poetry plays in civic dialogue and social change. Academy Executive Director Jennifer Benka and Founding President and CEO of the Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation Alan Curtis will introduce the event.

Presented in partnership with the the Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this event is part of a series of conversations with arts leaders convened by the Eisenhower Foundation, and supported by the Mellon Foundation, on healing racial and economic inequality and making good on the promises of democracy in the United States. 

This event is free to attend with registration. Closed captioning will be provided.

Programs presented by the Academy of American Poets are made possible in part by the generous support of poetry readers across the country and throughout the world. To help the Academy continue to publish poems and promote the work of poets, donate today.

Natalie Diaz  is the author of Postcolonial Love Poem (Graywolf Press, 2020), winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and finalist for the National Book Award and the Forward Prize in Poetry, and When My Brother Was an Aztec (Copper Canyon Press, 2012), winner of an American Book Award. A language activist, Diaz is Director of the Center for Imagination in the Borderlands and the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Arizona State University, where she teaches in the MFA program.

Kyle Dacuyan writes poems and makes performance. He is a 2021 NEA Fellow in Creative Writing and the author of INCITEMENTS (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2022). He previously served as Co-Director of National Outreach & Membership at PEN America, and is the current Executive Director of The Poetry Project at St. Mark's in New York City.

Dr. Eve L. Ewing is a sociologist of education and a writer from Chicago. She is the award-winning author of four books, including the poetry collections Electric Arches (Haymarket, 2017) and 1919 (Haymarket, 2019); the nonfiction work Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side (University of Chicago Press, 2018); and most recently a novel for young readers, Maya and the Robot (Kokila, 2021). Ewing is an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice.

Nikky Finney's most recent poetry collections are Love Child’s Hotbed of Occasional Poetry: Poems and Artifacts (Northwestern University Press, 2020) and Head Off & Split (Northwestern University Press, 2011), winner of the 2011 National Book Award. In 2020, she received the Wallace Stevens Award, given annually by the Academy of American Poets to recognize outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry.

Joy Harjo was appointed the United States poet laureate in June 2019, and is the first Native American Poet Laureate in the history of the position. She is the author of several books of poetry, including most recently An American Sunrise (W. W. Norton, 2019) andThe Woman Who Fell From the Sky (W. W. Norton, 1994), which received the Oklahoma Book Arts Award.

Tracy K. Smith is the author of four poetry collections, including Wade in the Water (Graywolf Press, 2018), winner of the 2019 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in Poetry, and shortlisted for the 2018 T. S. Eliot Prize. Her debut collection, The Body’s Question (Graywolf Press, 2003), won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize in 2002. Her fifth collection, Such Color: New and Selected Poems, is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in October 2021. Smith served as poet laureate of the United States from 2017 to 2019.