The Academy of American Poets is honored to announce that College of Staten Island Distinguished Professor of English Patricia Smith to its 15-member Board of Chancellors. She joins fellow new Chancellors also elected: Kimiko Hahn, Ilya Kaminsky, and Ed Roberson.

“All that we publish, program, and promote at the Academy of American Poets is fueled by the collective wisdom, imagination, and expertise of our Chancellors,” said Tess O’Dwyer, Chair of the Board. “It’s exhilarating to congratulate poets extraordinaire Kimiko Hahn, Ilya Kaminsky, Ed Roberson, and Patricia Smith on their election and welcome them into the leadership of the Academy.”

Professor Smith was honored with the distinction, saying “I started out in the raucous and rebellious world of the poetry slam, and never dreamed that my work, and an incredibly nurturing writing community, would bring me here—in the place where the craft is celebrated and decisions are made. I now get to work alongside so many of my heroes and teachers. What an otherworldly honor. Thrilled to share this news with my students and colleagues. And to all my poetry students, past and present: See, I TOLD you—there’s no life like a poet’s life!”

Smith and the new class of Chancellors now join current Chancellors Marilyn Chin, Kwame Dawes, Natalie Diaz, Nikky Finney, Carolyn Forché, Joy Harjo, Marie Howe, Dorianne Laux, Tracy K. Smith, Natasha Trethewey, and Kevin Young, as well as Ellen Bass, Forrest Gander, Terrance Hayes, and David St. John, whose terms have since concluded‘

Chancellors serve six-year terms during which they consult with the organization on artistic matters, judge the organization’s largest legacy prizes for American poets, and act as ambassadors of poetry in the world at large. 

Since 1946, 125 distinguished poets have been elected to this esteemed position, including Chancellors Emeriti Elizabeth Alexander, W. H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, Lucille Clifton, Rita Dove, Yusef Komunyakaa, Naomi Shihab Nye, Claudia Rankine, Adrienne Rich, Charles Simic, Mark Strand, and Arthur Sze. 

About Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith, poet, teacher, and performance artist, is a winner of the Poetry Foundation’s 2021 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement. She is the author of numerous collections, including Unshuttered (Northwestern University Press, 2023); Incendiary Art (Northwestern University Press, 2017), winner of the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and the 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Award in poetry, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry; Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah (Coffee House Press, 2012), winner of the 2013 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; and Blood Dazzler (Coffee House Press, 2008), which was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award. She also edited the crime fiction anthology Staten Island Noir (Akashic Books, 2012).

Academy Chancellor Carolyn Forché says, “Patricia Smith is among the most gifted and revered of American poets, whose powerful testimonial art addresses the brutalities of racism, the precarity of Black youth, and the vibrant cultural life of urban communities. She is a poet of rare formal range, vibrant diction, and dramatic virtuosity. Among her stunning collections, Blood Dazzler is rightfully regarded as a masterpiece of poetic response to historical tragedy. Already recognized for her artistry throughout the world, she will bring to the Academy of American Poets a knowledge of what is at stake in the literary art of our moment.”

Smith is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Cave Canem faculty member, and a Professor of Creative Writing at the College of Staten Island/The City University of New York and Princeton University. In February 2023, Smith will serve as Guest Editor of the Poem-a-Day series. 

About the Academy of American Poets 

Founded in 1934, the Academy of American Poets is the nation’s leading champion of poets and poetry with supporters in all 50 states and beyond. The organization annually awards $1.3+ million to more than 200 poets at various stages of their careers through its prize and fellowship programs. The organization also produces, the world’s largest publicly funded Website for poets and poetry; established and organizes National Poetry Month each April; publishes the popular Poem-a-Day series and American Poets magazine; provides free resources to K–12 educators, including the award-winning weekly Teach This Poem series; hosts an annual series of poetry readings, and special events; and coordinates a national Poetry Coalition that promotes the value that poets bring to our culture. To learn more about the Academy of American Poets, including its staff, its Board of Directors, and its Board of Chancellors, visit: