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Poets Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia

Virginia's Current Poet Laureate


Margaret O. Daramola is a writer, spoken word artist, and public speaker. ​She was raised in Switzerland, where she began writing at an early age. She holds a BA in English from Hampton University. 

Margaret self-published her first poetry collection, A Pathway Through Survival, in 2021. She is the recipient of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) and the Hampton University Student Poet Initiative Award. 


Margaret has performed poetry at various venues and events, including the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the African Union, and at the inauguration of Hampton University’s 13th president. In 2023, she was appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia and will serve a two-year term. 



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Virginia's First Youth Poet Laureate

Poet, writer, actor, singer, songwriter and aspiring filmmaker Kashvi Ramani, currently serves as Virginia's first Youth Poet Laureate. The role was created through a collaboration between Teens With a Purpose, Hampton Roads Youth Poets, and Urban World. 


She focuses on inspiring others to use poetry as a tool for personal expression and positive change. Words Beats and Life's (WBL's) Art Education Academy selected her to compete on its slam team for the 2020-2021 season. WBL and Urban World host the DMV's regional programs for Washington, D.C., Montgomery County, Maryland and Arlington, Virginia. 


Kashvi's poetry centers on her heritage, identity, and the struggles of being a young femaile Indian American in the 21st century. Her work has appeared in Brown Girl Magazine, Rattle, the YoungArts Anthology, Loudon Community Magazine, SEEMA, American Kahani, AsAmNews and other journals and magazines. 


With recognition from the Poetry Society of Virginia, Young Poets in the Community, Collaborative Solutions for Communities and Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, she was included in the 2023 Congressional Award Gold Medalist Class. Representing Virginia, Kashvi will compete with 44 other state Youth Poets Laureate for 2024 Youth Poetry Laureate. 




Originally from Baguio City in the Philippines, Luisa A. Igloria is the author of 14 books of poetry and four chapbooks. In July 2020, Governor Ralph Northam appointed her the 20th POET LAUREATE of the Commonwealth of Virginia. In April, she was one of 23 Poet Laureate recipients nationwide of a 2021 Poet Laureate Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets. She has four daughters and now makes her home in Virginia with most of her family. She is Louis I. Jaffe Professor of Creative Writing and English, and from 2009-2015 was Director of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University. In spring 2018, she was inaugural Glasgow Visiting Writer in Residence at Washington & Lee University.  Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and journals, including New England Review, The Common, Poetry, Crab Orchard Review, The Missouri Review, Indiana Review, Poetry East, Umbrella, Sweet, qarrtsiluni, poemeleon, Smartish Pace, Rattle, The North American Review, Bellingham Review, Shearsman (UK), PRISM International (Canada), Poetry Salzburg Review (Austria), The Asian Pacific American Journal, and TriQuarterly. ​Various national and international literary awards include the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition Award for Poetry; the 2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize selected by former US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey; the 2018 Bridport Poetry Prize/UK (second prize); the 2015 (inaugural) Resurgence Poetry Prize (the world’s first major ecopoetry award), the 2014 May Swenson Poetry Prize selected by Mark Doty for Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014); the 2009 Ernest Sandeen Poetry Prize for Juan Luna's Revolver (University of Notre Dame Press); the 2007 49th Parallel Poetry Prize selected by Carolyne Wright for the Bellingham Review; the 2007 James Hearst Poetry Prize selected by former US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser for the North American Review; Honorable Mention in the 2010 Potomac Review Poetry Contest; Finalist in the first Narrative Poetry Contest (2009); Finalist, the 2007 Indiana Review Poetry Prize; the 2006 National Writers Union Poetry Prize selected by Adrienne Rich; the 2006 Richard Peterson Poetry Prize (Crab Orchard Review); the 2006 Stephen Dunn Award for Poetry; Finalist, the 2005 George Bogin Memorial Award for Poetry (Poetry Society of America); the 2004 Fugue Poetry Prize selected by Ellen Bryant Voigt; Finalist, the 2003 Larry Levis Editors Prize for Poetry from The Missouri Review; Finalist, the 2003 Dorset Prize (Tupelo Press); the first Sylvia Clare Brown Fellowship, Ragdale Foundation (2007); a 2003 partial fellowship to the Summer Literary Seminars in St. Petersburg; three Pushcart Prize nominations; a 1998 Fellowship at the Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers in Lasswade, the Midlothians, Scotland; and the 1998 George Kent Award for Poetry.




Henry Hart was appointed Poet Laureate of Virginia by Governor Ralph Northam on July 2, 2018. Hart is the Hickman Professor of Humanities at the College of William & Mary. He has published three full-length collections of poetry: The Ghost Ship (1990), The Rooster Mask (1998), and Background Radiation (2007). He is also 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. The book 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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Born in 1955, Tim Seibles is an American poet and educator. His most recent collection of poetry is Voodoo Libretto: New and Selected Poems (Etruscan Press, 2022). Other Etruscan Press volumes include One Turn Around the Sun (2017) and Fast Animal (2012). His published volumes by Cleveland State University Poetry Center include Buffalo Head Solos (2004), Hammerlock (1999), and Hurdy-Gurdy (1992). Body Moves was published in 1988 by Corona Press and in 2012 by Carnegie Mellon University Press. 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. His collection Fast Animal earned the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize, the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award, and was nominated for the Nation Book Award in 2012. His poems have been published in 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 retired as professor of English at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia where he resides.




Ron Smith is the first writer-in-residence at St. Christopher’s School in Richmond, Virginia and Poetry Editor for Aethlon: The Journal of Sport Literature. He was the 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. A former president of the Poetry Society of Virginia and a trustee for the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, he is on the board of directors for James River Writers. He has published four volumes of poetry published by Lousiana University State Press: That Beauty in the Trees, The Humility of the Brutes, Its Ghostly Workshop, and Moon Road.




Virginia Poet Laureate from 2012 to 2014, Sofia M. Starnes is the author of six poetry collections, most recently The Consequence of Moonlight (Paraclete Press, 2018). She received a Poetry Fellowship from the Virginia Commission for the Arts. Other commendations include 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 in 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. She translated a book of essays on Spain’s role in the American Revolution, 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. Find more information about her work at




b. Dec. 21, 1940 - d. Mar. 18, 2022

Kelly Cherry was an award-winning poet, novelist, and essayist who wrote 27 full-length books, 11 chapbooks, and two translations of classical plays. She was the Eudora Welty Professor Emerita of English and Evjue-Bascom Professor Emerita in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she taught from 1977 until retirement in 1999. Her 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 a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Her collections of poetry include Songs for a Soviet Composer (1980), God’s Loud Hand (1993), Death and Transfiguration (1997), Rising Venus (2002), Hazard and Prospect: New and Selected Poems (2007), and The Retreats of Thought: Poems (2009). Her works of fiction include Sick and Full of Burning (1974); In the Wink of an Eye (1983); The Society of Friends (1999), which won the Dictionary of Literary Biography Award for Short Fiction; We Can Still Be Friends (2003); and The Woman Who (2010). Cherry's published nonfiction includesThe Exiled Heart (1991), and essay collections, such as Girl in a Library: On Women Writers & the Writing Life (2009). She also published two translations of ancient Greek drama. She lived on a small farm in Halifax, Virginia, where she had lived with her late husband, fiction writer Burke Davis III, until her death in March 2022.




b. Jan. 13, 1957 - d. Dec. 4, 2014

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 Voigt, Betty Adcock, and William Faulkner. 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). Claudia earned 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 by then-Governor Tim Kaine. She 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 lived in Fredericksburg with her husband, musician Kent Ippolito, and died of cancer in Richmond in 2014.




Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda was Virginia Poet Laureate from 2006 to 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 nine books of poetry, including The Embrace: Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, winner of the Art in Literature: The Mary Lynn Kotz Award. She received 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, and six Pushcart Prize nominations.  Her poems appear in Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, Mid-American Review, Best of Literary Journals, Poet Lore, and World Poetry Yearbook. Carolyn's poems, and 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.  Also an abstract artist, Carolyn's paintings and sculpture have been exhibited widely throughout Virginia.  She recently retired from serving as an adjunct faculty member for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Statewide Partners Program.




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




b. Jun. 11, 1929 - d. May. 25, 2008

George Palmer 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 received a National Endowment for the Arts grant (1967), Guggenheim fellowship (1974), American Academy award (1985), New York Public Library Literary Lion Award (1988), T. S. Eliot Award (1989), PEN/Malamud Award for short fiction (1990), and Lifetime Achievement Award from the Library of Virginia (2004). George died of cancer in 2008 at his home in Charlottesville and is buried in the University of Virginia Cemetery. George Garrett's papers are housed in the Duke University Special Collections Library.




b. Sep. 16, 1931 - d. Feb. 11, 2016

Grace Pow Simpson was the author of the poetry collection, “Dancing the Bones,” which won the Writer’s Digest award for best self-published poetry book of 2001. That year, she presented poems from this collection at the National Festival of the Book in Washington, D.C. She was published in the Cincinnati Poetry Review, the Formalist, the Southern Poetry Review, and Zone 3, which gave her a Rainmaker Award for Poetry. Grace's work also is featured in the 2004 publication, Four Poets Laureates of Virginia: An Anthology & Reader's Guide. Grace earned a degree from Winthrop College in 1953 and a master’s degree in English from Longwood College in 1973. She taught English at Prince Edward County High School for 15 years until retiring in 1988. In 2002, Hampden-Sydney College, where her husband Hassell was on the English faculty, awarded her an honorary doctorate of humane letters. Known as a poet who stressed that verse should be memorized, Grace was born in 1921 in Georgetown, South Carolina. She died in 2016 in Farmville, Virginia at the age of 84.




b. May 17, 1929 - d. Jul. 17, 2009

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. Joseph published four books of poetry: “Neon Distances,” “Shenandoah Long Ago,” “Leaning to Hear the Music” and “Big Bang: A Poem in 12 Cantos.” He held significant leadership positions in several organizations: President of the Poetry Society of Virginia, Vice President of the Virginia Writers Club, and National President of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). In addition to being appointed Poet Laureate of Virginia in 1998, he received the Thomas Jefferson Award for Career Achievement from PRSA’s Old Dominion Chapter. He published a book, The Power of Public Relations, in 1985. Joseph retired after 36 years from Reynolds Metals Company, where was Executive Vice President of Public Relations. He died after a brief illness in 2009 at the age of 80.




b. Apr. 28, 1923 - d. Sep. 8, 2022

Margaret Ward Morland, an educator and poet starting in the 1960s, published two poetry collections in her career, It Happens Thus (1983) and Gift of Jade (1998). She taught English at Samford University and Lynchburg College. Her work translated across different art forms. More than 60 of her poems were set to music and have been performed by choirs from Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg, to the quadricentennial celebration of Jamestown, to the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. Her poems inspired visual artists, being paired with paintings at exhibitions in Lynchburg and New York, and have also been reimagined through dance. Morland's poetry received numerous awards, including recognition by the National League of American Pen Women, the Arts Award of the Academy of Women, Cecil Hackney Award from Birmingham-Southern College, Conrad Aiken Prize from the Poetry Society of Georgia, National Lutheran Hymn Prize, The Nancy Byrd Turner Prize from The Poetry Society of Virginia, and Distinguished Alumna Award of Samford University. Two of Margaret's poems were selected by the Virginia Metrorail Public Arts Program and are etched into the work of a leading architectural glass artist's rendering at the McLean, Virginia metro station. She was appointed by the Virginia General Assembly to the state's original study committee to review entries for a new Virginia state song. Until the death of her husband sociologist/anthropologist John Kenneth Morland in 2005, Margaret spent significant time traveling the world with him and sharing poetry in other countries. She died September 18, 2022 in Lynchburg, where she had resided for many years.




Poet, novelist, artist, and playwright Kathryn Forrester-Thro was named Poet Laureate of Virginia in 1994. During her tenure, she launched an “Anti-Violence Through the Medium of Poetry” campaign, which was recognized by the Governor. She wrote several volumes of poetry in the early 1990s. Her recent young adult novel, Laurel LeMay and the Mystery of Merriweather Abbey, focuses on manners, etiquette and compassion among youth, especially those affected by physical, emotional or mental challenges. Kathryn has directed and produced several of her own works locally on Virginia stages. An Oblate of St. Benedict, her work includes founding "Mary's Joy," a Catholic humanitarian group based in her parish church, providing year-round donations to local charities serving those in need.




b. May 21, 1901 - d. Aug. 3, 1991

Guy Carleton Drewry published six volumes of poetry, with work appearing in numerous anthologies. His first novel, Proud Horns, was published in 1933. Other novels followed: Sounding Summer in 1948, Time of Turning in 1951, The Writhen Wood in 1953, and Cloud Above Clocktime in 1957. A Time for Turning won the 1952 Poetry Awards Foundation Prize. He was appointed in 1970 by the Virginia General Assembly to a lifetime term as Poet Laureate of Virginia. He was a past president of the Poetry Society of Virginia and a Regional Vice President of the Poetry Society of America. Guy's 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. Guy died of pneumonia and congestive heart failure on August 3, 1991 in Roanoke, Virginia. He was 90.

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b. Apr. 22, 1907 - d. May 24, 2004

Ruby Altizer Roberts wrote two volumes of poetry: Forever Is Too Long (1946) and Command the Stars (1948.) From 1952 to 1977, she owned and edited 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. After doing genealogical research for a book she co-wrote on her familty, she discovered she was a direct descendant of Revolutionary War soldier, Emera V. Altizer, who fought during Cornwallis' surrender in the battle of Yorktown. Ruby's writing about Montgomery County 's revolutionary heritage was incorporated into Virginia Historical Society publications and The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Her poetry appeared widely on postcards, in magazines, and in newspapers, including The Washington Post and the New York Times. In 1950, Roberts became the first ever woman Poet Laureate in Virginia, and one of the first female state laureates in the nation. In 1992, Virginia's General Assembly conferred the title of Poet Laureate Emerita to her. She is the only Virginia Poet Laureate to receive this honor. Among the many recognitions she received were The Bellaman Award for distinguished poetry; citations by the senate of Virginia and by the Khalsa College of Amritsar, India "for distinguished poetry on both sides of the Atlantic." Ruby received an honorary doctor of humane letters from William & Mary in 1961. She was chosen Woman of the Year in creative arts of Montgomery County in 1977. The author of a number of magazine articles, she wrote a children's book, The Story of Buzzy Bee. Ruby died in 2004 at the age of 97 in her home town of Christiansburg, Virginia.




b. Dec. 24, 1893 - d. Sep. 2, 1967

​Leigh Buckner Haynes was an Advisory Board member of the Poetry Society of Virginia and a member of the Virginia Bar Association. He practiced law in Roanoke and was the editor of The Lyric, the oldest poetry magazine in North America, from 1929-1949. Lee wrote 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. He died in 1967 in Roanoke, Virginia.




b. Mar. 6, 1875 - d. Jun. 19, 1948

Thomas Lomax Hunter was a lawyer and poet. He descended from a Scot who immigrated to Virginia in the mid 1800s. Thomas attended the College of William & Mary and studied law at Georgetown University. He was admitted to the bar of Virginia in 1908. He contributed a column titled “As It Appears to the Cavalier” for the Richmond Times-Dispatch from 1929 until his death. Between 1918 and 1920, Thomas 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. Thomas opposed Prohibition. He died in Richmond County, Virginia in 1948.




b. Sep 25, 1876 - d. Mar 6, 1948

​Charles Day, who was a staff writer at Norfolk's Ledger-Dispatch, published a daily poem in the column titled "Lights O'Day." Many of those poems, which he published over 10 years before becoming Poet Laureate, were put to music by Clara C. Harney and Sam Simons. Charles appeared on numerous radio programs in Richmond and Norfolk and read poetry to the Rubinstein Club in New York. At the 1941 production of The Lost Colony, he presented his poem of the same name to the audience. He served as Poet Laureate of several organizations simultaneously with his appointment as Virginia Poet Laureate, including both the Norfolk Chapter and Virginia Society of the Sons of the American Revolution and the United Memorial Day Association. In 1939, Charles was the only person in the state to address graduating classes with poetry—at Maury High School at Loew's State Theater and for several graduating classes at Granby High School. He wrote four volumes of poems.




b. 1874 - d. 1938

Carter Warner Wormeley was the advertising and publicity director for the state of Virginia and a former Richmond journalist. 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. Born in 1874, he passed away at the age of 64 in 1938, and is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.

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