Poetry Friday: In Celebration of Poets Laureate

Rebecca Gambale, Program Associate, Poetry

In honor of the newly appointed United States Poet Laureate Philip Levine, we thought we’d feature an important part of every Dodge Poetry Festival – Poets Laureate both past and present.

Did you know that a total of 17 U.S. Poets Laureate have participated in the Dodge Poetry Festival, many of them multiple times? This includes Philip Levine, who has read at the 1990, 1994 and 2004 Festivals.

Poets Laureate Maxine Kumin, Robert Hass, Billy Collins and Ted Kooser
at the 2006 Dodge Poetry Festival

About 10 years ago the Poet Laureate panel became a part of the Festival programming. At the time poets like Rita Dove, Robert Pinsky and Robert Hass were making the position more visible by trying to use it to increase poetry awareness and improve poetry education nationally. The panels were an attempt to put a human face on what otherwise might seem a lofty post, and give the laureates a chance to talk about both the challenges and the opportunities presented by the position.

We would like to share with you, in alphabetical order, the list of all of the Poets Laureate who have graced our stage and participated in the U.S. Poets Laureate panel, a highlight of every Festival:

Gwendolyn Brooks
Billy Collins
Rita Dove
Donald Hall
Robert Hass
Ted Kooser
Maxine Kumin
Stanley Kunitz
Philip Levine
W.S. Merwin
Howard Nemerov
Robert Pinsky
Kay Ryan
Charles Simic
William Stafford
Mark Strand
Richard Wilbur

For more information on which poets participated in each Festival year, please check the Festival Background section of our website and click on “Past Festivals” to choose a year.

For a full listing of all U.S. Poets Laureate, check out the Library of Congress timeline.

Support the Dodge Poetry Archive and Poetry Program. Click here.

Did you know that the Dodge Poetry Program has a YouTube channel? Take a look – view video clips from past biennial Festivals! You can also join the conversation on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @dodgepoetryfest. See you there!

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