Poets Laureate of Virginia

Current Poet Laureate

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LUISA IGLORIA

2020 — 2022

LUISA A. IGLORIA is a tenured Professor of English and Creative Writing at Old Dominion University, where she served as Director of the MFA Creative Writing Program from 2009-2015. She was named the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University (Spring Term 2018).

She has been appointed the 20th Poet Laureate of Virginia, with a two year term from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2022.  

 

She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (selected by former US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey as the winner of the 2018 Center for the Book Arts Poetry Chapbook Prize); and the full-length works The Buddha Wonders if She is Having a Mid-Life Crisis (Phoenicia Publishing, Montreal, March 2018), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (selected by Mark Doty for the 2014 May Swenson Prize, Utah State University Press), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, Montreal, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize in Poetry, University of Notre Dame Press), Trill & Mordent (WordTech Editions, 2005), and 8 other books including Encanto (Anvil, 2004), and In the Garden of the Three Islands (Moyer Bell/Asphodel, 1995).

PAST POETS LAUREATE

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HENRY HART

2018-2020

Poetry Society of Virginia board member Henry Hart was appointed Poet Laureate of Virginia by decree of Governor Ralph Northam on the second day of July, 2018.

Hart is the Hickman Professor of Humanities at the College of William and Mary. In the course of his new role, he will serve as the ambassador and chief promoter for poetry in Virginia. He has previously published three full-length collections of poetry: The Ghost Ship (1990), The Rooster Mask (1998), and Background Radiation (2007). Additionally he is well known for critical works on such poets as Seamus Heaney, Geoffrey Hill, and Robert Lowell. He served as editor for the James Dickey Reader (1999) and his biography of Dickey—James Dickey: The World as a Lie (2000)—is highly regarded as definitive on the subject. It was a finalist in nonfiction for the Southern Book Critics Circle Award. Hart’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, Kenyon Review, Southern Review, Sewanee Review, Denver Quarterly, and numerous other journals. In 2010 he won the Carole Weinstein Prize for Poetry.

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TIM SEIBLES

2016-2018

Born 1955, Tim Seibles is an American poet and educator. He is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently, Fast Animal (Etruscan Press, 2012). Seibles carries the distinction of being the first African American man to serve as Virginia’s Poet Laureate. His honors include an Open Voice Award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. In 2012 he was nominated for a National Book Award, for Fast Animal. His poems have been published in literary journals and magazines including Callaloo, The Kenyon Review, Indiana Review, Ploughshares, Electronic Poetry Review, Rattle, and in anthologies including Verse & Universe: Poems About Science and Mathematics (Milkweed Editions, 1998) and New American Poets in the 90’s (David R. Godine, 1991). He is is a professor of English at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia where he resides.

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RON SMITH

2014-2016

Ron Smith is an American poet and the first writer-in-residence at St. Christopher’s School in Richmond, Virginia. He was an inaugural winner of the Carole Weinstein Poetry Prize and now serves as a one of four curators for the prize. Smith’s poems have appeared in periodicals, including The Nation, Kenyon Review, New England Review, and in anthologies from Wesleyan University Press, Time-Life Books, University of Virginia Press, University of Georgia Press, and University of Illinois Press. His essay-reviews have appeared in The Kenyon Review and other magazines and reference works, most recently in The Georgia Review, Blackbird: an online journal of literature and the arts, and H-Arete. He is the regular poetry reviewer for The Richmond Times-Dispatch. He is a former president of the Poetry Society of Virginia, a trustee for the Edgar Allan Poe Museum and sits on the board of directors for James River Writers.He has published four volumes of poetry.

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SOFIA M. STARNES

2012-2014

Sofia M. Starnes served as Virginia Poet Laureate from 2012 to 2014. She is the author of six poetry collections, most recently The Consequence of Moonlight (Paraclete Press, 2018). She is also the recipient of a Poetry Fellowship from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, among other commendations, including the Rainer Maria Rilke Poetry Prize, the Marlboro Review Poetry Prize, the Whitebird Poetry Series Prize, the Aldrich Museum Poetry Prize, the Transcontinental Poetry Prize (Editor’s Choice), five Pushcart Prize nominations, and an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Union College, Kentucky.

 

Sofia’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as Poetry, First Things, The Bellevue Literary Review, Notre Dame Review, William & Mary Review, Southern Poetry Review, Laurel Review, Gulf Coast, and Modern Age. Her translations of essays on the Philippine-Spanish artist Fernando Zóbel have been issued by Galería Cayón in Madrid, Spain, and the Ayala Foundation, Manila, Philippines. In 2018, she was engaged to translate a book of essays on Spain’s role in the American Revolution, which was subsequently published by Iberdrola.

 

Sofia lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, where she is working on her next poetry collection, a recasting of the dizain, a 16th century form, in contemporary voice.  More information about her work can be found in www.sofiamstarnes.com.

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KELLY CHERRY

2010-2012

Kelly Cherry is an award-winning novelist, poet, essayist who graduated from the University of Mary Washington in 1961 and received a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is the Eudora Welty Professor Emerita of English and Evjue-Bascom Professor Emerita in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she has taught from 1977 until retirement in 1999. Notable honors include the 2012 Carole Weinstein Poetry Prize, 1990, 1987, 1983 PEN Syndicated Fiction Awards, the 1989 Hanes Poetry Prize, a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, and was a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. She has written 27 full-length books of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, eleven chapbooks, and two translations of classical plays.

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CLAUDIA EMERSON

2008-2010

Born and raised in Chatham, Virginia, Claudia Emerson studied writing at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Her poetry, steeped in the Southern Narrative tradition, bears the influences of Ellen Bryant VoigtBetty Adcock, and William Faulkner. Of the collection Late Wife (2005), poet Deborah Pope observed, “Like the estranged lover in one of her poems who pitches horseshoes in the dark with preternatural precision, so Emerson sends her words into a different kind of darkness with steely exactness, their arc of perception over and over striking true.”

Emerson’s volumes of poetry include Pharaoh, Pharaoh (1997); Pinion: An Elegy (2002); Late Wife (2005), which won the Pulitzer Prize; Figure Studies (2008); and Secure the Shadow (2012).

Her honors include two additional Pulitzer Prize nominations as well as fellowships from the Library of Congress, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2008 she was appointed poet laureate of Virginia, a two-year role.

Emerson was poetry editor for the Greensboro Review and a contributing editor for Shenandoah. She taught at Washington and Lee University, Randolph-Macon Women’s College, the University of Mary Washington, and Virginia Commonwealth University. She died in 2014.

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CAROLYN KREITER-FORONDA

2006-2008

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RITA DOVE

2004-2006

Rita Dove is an Pulitzer Prize winning American poet and writer who broke barriers by serving as the first African American Poet Laureate of Virginia and Poet Laureate of the United States. She received her BA from Miami University in 1973 and an MFA from the University of Iowa in 1977. She received the National Humanities Medal / Charles Frankel Prize, the 3rd Annual Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities in 1997. and more recently, the 2006 Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service in Literature, the 2007 Chubb Fellowship at Yale University, the 2008 Library of Virginia Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2009 Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, the 2009 Premio Capri and the 2011 National Medal of Arts. In 2014 she was honored with the Carole Weinstein Prize in poetry and in 2015, as the first American, with the Poetry and People Prize in Guangdong, China. In 2016 she received the Stone Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement from Oregon State University. Collected Poems 1974-2004, released in 2016, was a finalist for the National Book Award, the winner of the NAACP Image Award in poetry and winner of the 2017 Library of Virginia Poetry Award. She was born in 1952 and resides in Charlottesville with her husband.

Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda served as Poet Laureate of Virginia from 2006-2008.  She holds a B.A. from the University of Mary Washington and M.Ed., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from George Mason University, where she received the university’s first doctorate, an Outstanding Academic Achievement and Service Award, and a Letter of Recognition for Quality Research from the Virginia Educational Research Association for her dissertation, Gathering Light: A Poet’s Approach to Poetry Analysis.  In 2007 both universities gave her the Alumna of the Year Award.  She has co-edited three anthologies, co-authored a poem-play, and published eight books of poetry, including The Embrace: Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, winner of the Art in Literature: The Mary Lynn Kotz Award. She is the recipient of five grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and has won the Ellen Anderson Award, multiple first place awards from the Chesapeake Bay Branch of the National League of American Pen Women, a resolution of appreciation from the Virginia Board of Education for her service as poet laureate, an Edgar Allan Poe Poetry Award, six Pushcart Prize nominations, as well as other awards.  Her poems appear in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, Mid-American Review, Best of Literary Journals, Poet Lore, and World Poetry Yearbook.  Her poems, along with those of other Virginia poets laureate, are featured in two permanent art installations in Northern Virginia as part of the Washington Metropolitan Area Authority, Art in Transit.  An abstract artist, Dr. Kreiter-Foronda’s paintings and sculpture have been exhibited widely throughout the state of Virginia.  She currently serves as an adjunct faculty member for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Statewide Program.

GEORGE GARRETT

2002-2004

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George Garrett was the author of more than 30 books of fiction, poetry, biography and criticism. He was the Henry Hoyns professor of creative writing at the University of Virginia. He was a National Endowment for the Arts grant recipient (1967,) a Guggenheim fellow (1974,) a winner of the American Academy award (1985,) the New York Public Library Literary Lion award (1988,) the T. S. Eliot Award (1989,) the PEN/Malamud Award for short fiction (1990,) and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Library of Virginia (2004.) He was born in 1929 and died in 2008, having completed both his Masters and Doctoral degrees in English at Princeton University. Garrett was widely recognized as “one of the most inventive and artistic writers of his generation.”

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GRACE POW SIMPSON

2000-2002

Grace Pow Simpson graduated from Winthrop College in 1953. She completed a master’s degree in English at the Hampton-Syndney College in 1973, and taught High School English for 15 years. She was the author of a poetry collection entitled “Dancing the Bones,” as well as a recipient of the Rainmaker Award for Poetry. Her woprk saw publication in the Cincinnati Poetry Review, the Formalist, the Southern Poetry Review, and Zone 3. She was born in 1921 and died in 2016 at the age of 84. Her work was featured prominently in the 2004 publication, Four Poets Laureates of Virginia.

JOSEPH FREDERICK AWAD

1998-2000

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Joseph Frederick Awad was an inductee of the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame. He studied English literature at Georgetown University and also attended the Corcoran School of Art. He published four books of poetry: “Neon Distances,” “Shenandoah Long Ago,” “Leaning to Hear the Music” and “Big Bang: A Poem in 12 Cantos.” He was born in 1929 and died in 2009 at the age of eighty. Awad was a former president of the Poetry Society of Virginia, as well as a Vice President of the Virginia Writers Club. In addition to poetry he was also accomplished in painting.

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MARGARET WARD MORLAND

1996-1998

Margaret Ward Morland, who was active as an accomplished educator and poet beginning in the 1960s, published two volumes of poetry throughout her career. She taught English at Samford and at Lynchburg College in Virginia, was cited by the YWCA in 1986 as an Academy of Women ARTS honoree, and was also recognized by the National League of American Pen Women.

KATHRYN FORRESTER THRO

1994-1996

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Kathryn Forrester-Thro was named Poet Laureate of Virginia in 1994. During her tenure she launched a campaign titled “Anti-Violence Through the Medium of Poetry,” which was recognized by the Governor. She is an Oblate of St. Benedict, and founded a Catholic humanitarian group that provides year-round donations to local people in need. 

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GUY CARLETON DREWRY

1970

Guy Carleton Drewry published six volumes of poetry, with work appearing in numerous anthologies. His third book, “A Time for Turning,” won the 1952 Poetry Awards Foundation Prize. He was appointed 1970 by the Virginia General Assembly to a lifetime term as Poet Laureate of Virginia. He was a past president of the Virginia Poetry Society, as well as a regional vice president of the Poetry Society of America. His work was published widely in the Nation, New Republic, Yale Review, New York Times, New York Herald Tribune, Poetry, Queen’s Quarterly, Voices, Saturday Review and Saturday Evening Post. He was an associate editor of The Lyric from 1929 to 1949. Drewry was born in 1901 and died in 1991.

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RUBY ALTIZER ROBERTS

1950;  Appointed Emerita 1992-1994

Ruby Altizer Roberts authored two volumes of poetry: Forever Is Too Long (1946) and Command the Stars (1948.) From 1952 until 1977, she was the owner and editor of The Lyric (the oldest poetry magazine in North America, established in 1921 by John R Moreland of Norfolk, a founding member of the Poetry Society of Virginia.) She was a direct descendant of Revolutionary War soldier, Emera Altizer — who fought in the battle of Yorktown. Her poetry appeared widely on postcards, in magazines, and in newspapers: including the Washington Post and the New York Times. She was born in 1907 and passed away in 2004 at the age of 97. Roberts was the first ever woman laureate in Virginia, as well as one of ther first female state laureates in the nation. She was re-appointed as a Laureate Emerita from 1994-1996.

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LEIGH BUCKNER HANES

1949

Leigh Buckner Hanes was an advisory board member of the Poetry Society of Virginia, and a member of the Virginia Bar Association. He was born in 1893 and died in 1967. He practiced law in Roanoke and was the editor of The Lyric (oldest poetry magazine in North America), from 1929-1949. He was the author of Song of the New Hercules and Other Poems (1930,) Green Girdle (1939,) The Star That I See (1950,) and Wide the Gate: Poems 1925-1957 (1957.)

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THOMAS LOMAX HUNTER

1948

Thomas Lomax Hunter was a lawyer and poet. He was born in 1875 and died in 1948. He was descended from a Scottish migrant who immigrated to Virginia in the mid 1800s. He studied at the college of William and Mary, and studied law at Georgetown University. He was admitted to the bar of Virginia in 1908. Day contributed a column titled “As It Appears to the Cavalier” to the Richmond Times-Dispatch from 1929 until his death. Between 1918 and 1920 Hunter represented King George and Stafford counties in the Virginia House of Delegates, where he was a supporter of Women’s Suffrage, compulsory education, and higher education for women, as well as an opponent of Prohibition.

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CHARLES DAY

1942-1943

Under research review. If you have information about this Laureate please contact us.

CARTER WARMER WORMELY

1936-1938

Carter Warner Wormeley was the advertising and publicity director for Virginia, as well as a former Richmond journalist. Born in 1874, he passed away at the age of 64 in 1938, and is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. The Virginia General Assembly awarded him a lifetime appointment as Poet Laureate in 1936. He was the first such appointee in the history of the state.Carter Warner Wormeley was the advertising and publicity director for Virginia, as well as a former Richmond journalist. Born in 1874, he passed away at the age of 64 in 1938, and is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. The Virginia General Assembly awarded him a lifetime appointment as Poet Laureate in 1936. He was the first such appointee in the history of the state.