Stan and Tom Wick Prize Winner: Farnaz Fatemi's Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship
The Academy of American Poets Awards $1.1 Million to 23 Poets Laureate Across the United States
The Academy of American Poets announced today that it is awarding $50,000 each to its 2023 Poet Laureate Fellows for a combined total of $1.1 million. These twenty-three individuals serve as poets laureate of states, counties, and cities across the United States and will be leading public poetry programs in their respective communities in 2023–24. The Academy will additionally provide $114,500 total in matching grants to help secure the pledged support of the Fellows’ projects from twelve local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations.
“The Academy of American Poets celebrates the unique position poets laureate occupy at state and local levels, elevating the possibilities poetry can bring to community conversations and reminding us that our national spirit can be nourished by the power of the written and spoken word,” said Ricardo Maldonado, president and executive director of the Academy. “We are inspired by these projects—which include intergenerational workshops, city- and statewide festivals, community-generated publications, and more—that the twenty-three Fellows will carry out, and grateful to the Mellon Foundation and the nonprofit organizations supporting this life-affirming work.”
Through its Poet Laureate Fellowship program, the Academy of American Poets—a leading financial supporter of poets in the United States—has awarded a total of $5.45 million in fellowships to one hundred and five poets laureate since 2019, plus more than $360,000 in matching grants to secure project support from forty-seven local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. In addition to helping these Fellows reach tens of thousands of individuals in ninety-three different communities through creative and timely poetry programs, the Academy has helped encourage the creation of more than forty new poet laureate positions across the nation since launching this program. The fellowships are made possible by the Mellon Foundation, which awarded the Academy two grants to fund the program.
“Collectively the voice and vision of these twenty-three poets laureate will bring together community members through the craft and creativity of poetry and illuminate place through words,” said Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Mellon Foundation. “We are proud to continue our support of the Poet Laureate Fellowship program and to honor the Academy of American Poets’ enduring commitment to the unique power of poetry.” “We want to thank the following panelists for their generous investment of time and expertise in recommending the recipients of the 2023 Fellowships: Francisco Aragón, the founding director of Letras Latinas at Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies; Ed Madden, the former poet laureate of Columbia, South Carolina; Olivia Morgan, the founder of National Student Poets; and Tracy K. Smith, former U.S. poet laureate and a member of the Academy’s Board of Chancellors,” said Tess O’Dwyer, Board Chair. Final award decisions were approved by members of the Academy of American Poets’ Board of Directors.
The 2023 Poet Laureate Fellows and the communities they serve are Diannely Antigua (Portsmouth, NH), Lisa Bickmore (Utah), Jennifer Bartell Boykin (Columbia, SC), Joseph Bruchac (Saratoga Springs, NY), Lauren Camp (New Mexico), Laura Da’ (Redmond, WA), Oliver de la Paz (Worcester, MA), Farnaz Fatemi (Santa Cruz County, CA), Nicholas Gulig (Fort Atkinson, WI), Peter J. Harris and Carla Rachel Sameth (Altadena, CA), Taylor Johnson (Takoma Park, MD), Yalie Saweda Kamara (Cincinnati, OH), Brandy Nālani McDougall (Hawaiʻi), Gloria Muñoz (St. Petersburg, FL), Sharon Kennedy-Nolle (Sullivan County, NY), Shin Yu Pai (Seattle, WA), Willie Perdomo (New York), Jason Magabo Perez (San Diego, CA), Glenis Redmond (Greenville, SC), Erin Elizabeth Smith (Oak Ridge, TN), Junious Ward (Charlotte, NC), and Joaquín Zihuatanejo (Dallas, TX).
Farnaz Fatemi, Poet Laureate Fellow, Santa Cruz County, California In partnership with the Wick Poetry Center and several local Santa Cruz County organizations, Farnaz Fatemi will produce a series of nine monthly pop-up teen poetry workshops (three of which will be bilingual) led by local poets, during which participants will be invited to write about place in consideration of the lasting impacts of the 2020 fires and recent flooding across Santa Cruz County. The workshops will culminate in a permanent digital poetry space that will launch during National Poetry Month in April 2024.
Fatemi is an Iranian American poet and writer and the author of Sister Tongue (Kent State University Press, 2022), winner of the 2021 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of prizes and fellowships from Djerassi, Jentel, and the Center for Women Writers