Poet Laureate

views updated Jun 11 2018


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.

Barbara SchwarzWachal

See alsoLibrary of Congress ; Literature .

poet laureate

views updated May 21 2018

poet laureate Title conferred by the British monarch on a poet whose duty is then to write commemorative verse on important occasions. Poet laureates include Robert Southey (1813–43), Wordsworth (1843–50), Tennyson (1850–92), John Masefield (1930–67), Cecil Day-Lewis (1968–72), Sir John Betjeman (1972–84), Ted Hughes (1984–98), and Andrew Motion (1999– ).

poet laureate

views updated May 14 2018

poet laureate. James I awarded Ben Jonson a pension in 1616 and he and Sir William Davenant (1637) were widely recognized as laureates. But the first court appointment of a laureate was in 1668 when Charles II chose Dryden. In the 18th cent. the laureate was expected to produce birthday odes and wedding verses. Among the more distinguished laureates were Wordsworth (1843) and Tennyson (1850); less distinguished were Whitehead (1757), Pye (1790), and Alfred Austin (1896). The present poet laureate is Andrew Motion.

J. A. Cannon

poet laureate

views updated May 29 2018

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.

Poet Laureate

views updated May 23 2018

Poet Laureate an eminent poet appointed as a member of the British royal household. The first Poet Laureate in the modern sense was Ben Jonson, but the title became established with the appointment of John Dryden in 1668. The Poet Laureate was formerly expected to write poems for state occasions, but since Victorian times the post has carried no specific duties.