CCT: Dick Allen of Trumbull Named as New State Poet Laureate

Dick Allen of Trumbull Named New State Poet Laureate

HARTFORD, Conn. (June 14, 2010) - The Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism (CCT) announced today that Dick Allen of Trumbull has been named Connecticut's new poet laureate, an honorary position established by the Connecticut legislature in 1985. As the state's representative poet, the poet laureate serves as an advocate for poetry, fostering appreciation of and engagement in poetry and literary arts activities among Connecticut citizens.

Dick Allen will serve a five-year term, from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2015. He succeeds poet laureate John Hollander. Previous Connecticut poet laureates were Marilyn Nelson, Leo Connellan, and James Merrill.

About Dick Allen
Dick Allen, one of America's leading poets, is preeminent among poets who encourage new sensibilities in poetry and who have brought to contemporary poetry a large array of subjects other than the "self" and styles other than confessional free verse.

A masterful poet of wide reputation, Allen has published in the nation's premier journals including Poetry, the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Hudson Review, New Republic, and New Criterion, as well as in scores of national anthologies. He has published seven poetry collections and won numerous awards including a Pushcart Prize, the Robert Frost prize, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Ingram Merrill Poetry Foundation, and six inclusions in The Best American Poetry annual volumes. Allen's most recent collection, Present Vanishing: Poems (Sarabande Books), received the 2009 Connecticut Book Award for Poetry.

An acclaimed public speaker and poetry reader, Allen has led poetry workshops and seminars and served as a judge for various competitions and selection committees in Connecticut (including Poetry Out Loud State Finals in 2007 and a POL workshop for teachers in 2009) and at the national level.

His poems have been featured on Poetry Daily and Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac and in Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry, as well as recently on the national websites of Tricycle, where he was a guest poet writing on Zen Buddhism and poetry, and on the Smartish Pace poetry website.

"Dick Allen brings honor to the poet laureate post and his extensive work and talent serve as an inspiration for Connecticut's citizens," said Karen Senich, executive director of the Commission on Culture & Tourism. "We are fortunate to count Dick Allen among our rich and diverse pool of state artists."

Prior to his early retirement, Allen was Charles A. Dana Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at the University of Bridgeport (UB) where he taught from 1968 to 2001. During his distinguished teaching career, he was highly regarded and well-loved by students of all ages - particularly for his generosity of spirit and ability to mentor and nurture both beginning and accomplished poets. While at UB, he directed the University's Visiting Writers Series (open to the general public) which brought fifty of the nation's leading poets to Connecticut, and created and taught a wide range of courses, including international poetry and fiction, to a diverse student body.

CCT received twelve nominations for the 2010-2015 poet laureateship and convened a distinguished panel of poets and literary professionals to review the nominations based on three published criteria:

- outstanding reputation and distinction in the field of poetry

- excellence of the poet's work and history of substantial publications

- capacity to foster public appreciation of and participation in poetry through readings, public presentations and/or teaching in diverse communities.

The panelists were:
Yusef Komunyakaa, 1994 Pulitzer-Prize winning poet, is Distinguished Senior Poet in New York University's graduate creative writing program. His poetry, widely recognized for its powerful voice, incorporates the influences of jazz, his upbringing in Louisiana, and his Vietnam War experience. Besides the Pulitzer, he has won numerous awards, including the William Faulkner Prize and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. He served as Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1999 to 2005. Yusef was a professor of creative writing at Princeton University for many years before joining the faculty at NYU.

Tree Swenson has been the executive director of the Academy of American Poets since 2002. She was previously the publisher and executive director of Copper Canyon Press, which she co-founded in 1972, and where she worked for twenty years to establish a national press that remains dedicated to publishing poetry. Copper Canyon Press has published a notable range of poets from many languages and cultures, including several Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winners. Immediately prior to the Academy of American Poets, Tree served as Director of Programs for the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Rosanna Warren, award-winning poet, is Professor of the Humanities and Professor of English and Romance Languages at Boston University. She has published numerous collections of poetry, one book of literary criticism, an anthology of essays about translation, as well as served as the poetry editor of several journals. Her awards include a Pushcart prize, the American Academy of Arts and Letters award, the Ingram Merrill Foundation award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, among others. She served as Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1999 to 2005.

About the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism
The Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism brings together tourism, history and the arts. Its mission is to preserve and promote Connecticut's cultural and tourism assets in order to enhance the quality of life and economic vitality of the state. The Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism is located at One Constitution Plaza, Second Floor, Hartford, Connecticut. For more information, log on to

Karen Senich
Executive Director
Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism
(860) 256-2727 (Leigh Johnson)

An-Ming Truxes
Arts Division Director
Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism
(860) 256-2722