Academy of American Poets Names Joy Harjo & Natasha Trethewey New Chancellors

January 10, 2019

Natasha Trethewey and Joy Harjo

On January 7, the Academy of American Poets announced in a press release that poets Joy Harjo and Natasha Trethewey will become its newest Chancellors. “We’re honored to have Joy and Natasha as new Chancellors,” said executive director Jennifer Benka. “Their participation, along with that of the other esteemed poets currently serving as Chancellors, ensure that poets remain at the heart of all we publish, program, and promote.” According to the announcement, the Chancellors will advise the Academy on artistic programming, judge Academy poetry prizes, and serve as “ambassadors for poetry in the world at large.”

Trethewey and Harjo will join the short list of 115 esteemed American poets who have served in the position since it was created in 1946. Past Chancellors include John Ashbery, W.H. Auden, Lucille Clifton, among others. Trethewey and Harjo will follow poets Claudia Rankine and Marilyn Nelson, who have reached the end of their terms. Terms last for six years, and then the Academy’s Board of Chancellors elects new Chancellors. The new Chancellors were selected by members of the current board, which consists of poets Elizabeth Alexander, Ellen Bass, Marilyn Chin, Kwame Dawes, Forrest Gander, Linda Gregerson, Terrance Hayes, Brenda Hillman, Marie Howe, Khaled Mattawa, Alicia Ostriker, Alberto Ríos, and David St. John.

Joy Harjo is a member of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation. Her honors include the PEN Open Book Award, the American Indian Distinguished Achievement in the Arts Award, the Josephine Miles Poetry Award, the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and fellowships from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the Witter Bynner Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2015, Harjo received the Wallace Stevens Award.

Natasha Trethewey, a past AWP board member and current judge for the Donald Hall Prize for Poetry, was born in Gulfport, Mississippi. Her first collection of poetry, Domestic Work, was selected by Academy Chancellor Emeritus Rita Dove as the winner of the inaugural Cave Canem Poetry Prize for the best first book by an African American poet and won both the 2001 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize and the 2001 Lillian Smith Award for Poetry. Trethewey is also the author of Monument: Poems New and Selected, which was longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award in Poetry, and Native Guard, which received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. She served two terms as US Poet Laureate.


Photo Credit (Trethewey): Joel Benjamin
Photo credit (Harjo): Karen Kuehn

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