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Elizabeth Kray

1916–1987

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.

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