XYZ | Poet Laureate

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The current United States Poet Laureate is Joy Harjo.

What is a poet laureate?

Poet Laureate is the title held by the official poet of a region (country, state, city, etc.). Poets laureate are selected by either the government or a conferring institution, and they are tasked with helping to raise awareness about poetry.

In the United States, the official title is: Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress

However, we typically say: United States Poet Laureate

You will sometimes see them referred to as: Laureates or Consultants

Plural: Poets Laureate or Poet Laureates

Former title: Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (1937 – 1984)

What does a poet laureate do?

Poets Laureate are able to pursue their own projects during their term. Therefore, some are more visible and vocal than others. According to the Library of Congress, formal requirements are as follows:

Poets Laureate must give a reading or presentation to inaugurate their term.

Poets Laureate must select the two annual Witter Bynner Fellows and introduce them at their Library of Congress reading

Poets Laureate must give a reading or presentation to close their term Source

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia showcasing the work of former holders of this title.

Each consultant has brought a different emphasis to the position.

Maxine Kumin started a popular series of poetry workshops for women at the Library of Congress. 

Gwendolyn Brooks met with elementary school students to encourage them to write poetry.

Joseph Brodsky initiated the idea of providing poetry in airports, supermarkets, and hotel rooms. 

Rita Dove, considered the first activist poet laureate, brought together writers to explore the African diaspora through the eyes of its artists, championed children’s poetry and jazz with poetry events and read at the White House during Bill Clinton’s first state dinner. Source

how long does the U.S. poet laureate hold the title?

The United States Poet Laureate holds the title from October to May and is appointed annually by the Librarian of the U.S. Congress. They receive a $35,000 annual stipend and may be reappointed.

how is the u.S. poet laureate chosen?

According to the Library of Congress:

The Librarian of Congress identifies a poet he’d like to serve as Poet Laureate, confirms that the poet is willing and able to serve as Poet Laureate, and then appoints the poet to the position. Source