Connecticut Poet Laureate
The honorary position of Connecticut Poet Laureate was established in 1985 by the State of Connecticut. As the state’s representative poet, the Poet Laureate serves as an advocate for poetry and promotes the appreciation of and participation in poetry and literary arts activities among Connecticut citizens.
The Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism (CCT) appoints a resident as the State Poet Laureate based on the recommendation of a panel of poets and literary professionals.
State Poet Laureate for 2010-2015 is 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.
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.
Past State Poet Laureates
2007-2011 John Hollander
2001-2006 Marilyn Nelson
1996-2001 Leo Connellan
1985-1995 James Merrill
State Poet Laureate Guidelines FY2010 (PDF) For Information Only.
State Poet Laureate Nomination Form FY2010 (PDF) For Information Only.
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