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U professor Paisley Rekdal receives Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship

April 24, 2019— The Academy of American Poets is pleased to announce that Paisley Rekdal, professor of English at the University of Utah and Poet Laureate of Utah, has been named an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow and will receive a $100,000 award in recognition of her literary merit and to support civic programs. Rekdal is one of 13 poets laureate nationwide to be honored.

This new award, made possible by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and announced by the New York Times, is in keeping with this spring’s national poetry programming theme of poetry and democracy offered by the Poetry Coalition. An alliance of more than 20 organizations, the Poetry Coalition promotes the value poets bring to culture and the important contribution poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds.

“Poets have an important role in our culture and in communities all across the country,” said Michael Jacobs, chairman of the Academy of American Poets. “By supporting Poets Laureate at the state and local level, we hope to ensure that more people become acquainted with poets and poetry where they live and have an opportunity to benefit from innovative and groundbreaking programming close to home.”

“Paisley is a poet whose work exemplifies how poetry can spark conversation and can help us learn about one another’s lives and unique experiences, which promotes greater understanding,” said Jennifer Benka, executive director of the Academy of American Poets. “We’re honored to help underwrite Paisley and the other twelve Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellows, all of whom are exceptional leaders,”

Rekdal was born and raised in Seattle, WA and received a master’s degree from the University of Toronto and an MFA from the University of Michigan. She is the author of “Nightingale,” “Imaginary Vessels,” “Animal Eye,” “The Invention of the Kaleidoscope,” “Six Girls without Pants,” and “A Crash of Rhinos,” winner of the University of Georgia Press’ Contemporary Poetry Series Award. Rekdal, who will receive $100,000, plans to launch the website “Mapping Literary Utah,” which will contain videos, poems and prose excerpts by writers that reside or have resided in Utah.

The full list of fellows to receive the first ever Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow awards of $50,000 - $100,000 include Grace Cavalieri, Poet Laureate of Maryland; Molly Fisk, Poet Laureate of Nevada County, CA; Jaki Shelton Green, Poet Laureate of North Carolina; Fred L. Joiner, Poet Laureate of Carrboro, NC; Robin Coste Lewis, Poet Laureate of Los Angeles, CA; Claudia Castro Luna, Poet Laureate of Washington State; Ed Madden, Poet Laureate of Columbia, SC; Adrian Matejka, Poet Laureate of Indiana; Jeanetta Calhoun Mish, Poet Laureate of Oklahoma; Paisley Rekdal, Poet Laureate of Utah; Raquel Salas Rivera, Poet Laureate of Philadelphia, PA; Kim Shuck, Poet Laureate of San Francisco, CA; and TC Tolbert, Poet Laureate of Tucson, AZ.

The Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowships panel included past U.S. Poets Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, Robert Pinsky and Natasha Trethewey; National Student Poets Program founder and member of President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities Olivia Morgan; MacArthur Fellow Natalie Diaz and Guggenheim Fellow Mark Nowak. The panel was co-chaired by Eunice “Nicie” Panetta, executive producer and co-host of “Fresh,” a podcast series in development about the freshman class of the 116th Congress, and former board chair of the Academy of American Poets; and Jennifer Benka, president and executive director of the Academy of American Poets. Final award decisions, informed by the panel and the scope of the projects, were made by the Academy of American Poets.

About the Academy of American Poets

The Academy of American Poets is our nation’s leading champion of poets, poetry and the work of poetry organizations. Founded in 1934 in New York City, the organization produces, the world’s largest publicly-funded website for poets and poetry; National Poetry Month; the popular Poem-a-Day series; American Poets magazine; Teach This Poem and other resources for K-12 educators; an annual series of poetry readings and special events; and awards the American Poets Prizes. The organization also coordinates the work of a national Poetry Coalition working to promote the value poets bring to our culture and the important contribution poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds.

Additional information about the Academy of American Poets and the Poets Laureate Fellowships can be found here.

Last Updated: 6/1/21