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Elizabeth Kray was hired in 1963 as the Academy of American Poets’ first executive director. Betty Kray was a legendary promoter of poetry, especially through poetry readings. During her tenure at the Academy, she was instrumental in putting both the organization and the art of poetry on the cultural map.
Under Betty’s leadership, the Academy launched a groundbreaking reading series at the Guggenheim Museum (1963), the first national touring circuits for poets (1965), the first Poets-in-the-Schools program (1966), the Walt Whitman Award (1975), and the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award (1976). In 1985, two years before her death, she cofounded Poets House with Stanley Kunitz.