POET LAUREATE, a position created in 1937 for the purpose of raising Americans' consciousness of and appreciation for the reading and writing of poetry. The librarian of Congress, in consultation with poetry experts and critics, appoints the poet laureate for a one-year term. Serving from October to May, the poet laureate receives a stipend of $35,000 funded by a gift trust. Although the appointee is encouraged to pursue his or her own projects while in residence at the Library of Congress, the laureate's duties also include giving a lecture and a poetry reading. The poet laureate also customarily introduces participants in the library's annual poetry series, which dates back to the 1940s. In addition, those holding the position often use the forum to bring their own artistic and educational concerns to the fore.
Joseph Auslander served as the nation's first poet laureate; other notable laureates have included Allen Tate, Robert Penn Warren, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Frost, James Dickey, Richard Wilbur, and Robert Pinsky.
McGuire, William. Poetry's Catbird Seat: The Consultantship in Poetry in the English Language at the Library of Congress, 1937–1987. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1988.
J. A. Cannon
po·et lau·re·ate / ˈlôrēət/ • n. (pl. po·ets lau·re·ate) an eminent poet traditionally appointed for life as a member of the British royal household. ∎ a poet appointed to, or regarded unofficially as holding, an honorary representative position in a particular country, region, or group: the New York State poet laureate the poet laureate of young America.