Although 2013 is less than two weeks old, poetry—not typically known for garnering national attention—has already managed to capture headlines across the country with the announcement that Richard Blanco will serve as the inaugural poet for Barack Obama. Mr. Blanco will be only the fifth inaugural poet, an honor first given to former Consultant in Poetry Robert Frost, who recited his poem “The Gift Outright” at John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inauguration.
The Library’s Poetry and Literature Center (PLC) is making news of its own at the start of the new year: Natasha Trethewey will later this month become the first U.S. Poet Laureate to take up residency in the Poetry and Literature Center. We in the PLC can’t wait to welcome Natasha and to work with her in the Poetry Room during the next five months of her term.
While national media has covered both of these developments, several states have also made news this year with the installation of new State Poets Laureate. Here are the changes that have occurred so far:
- Andrew Glaze, commissioned Poet Laureate of Alabama on November 5, 2012, assumed his duties at the first week of January.
- Nathan Brown replaced Eddie Wilcoxen as Oklahoma State Poet Laureate.
- On January 3, Max Garland became Wisconsin’s fifth Poet Laureate, succeeding Bruce Dethlefsen.
- Rick Benjamin was appointed State Poet of Rhode Island on January 9, replacing Lisa Starr, whose five-year term recently ended.
Since many states like to appoint new Poets Laureate at the beginning of the year, don’t be surprised if one or two additional appointments are made before the end of the month. In the meantime, poetry lovers can take pleasure in the work of our country’s inaugural poet, our new State Poets Laureate, and, of course, our U.S. Poet Laureate.