Consultants and Poets Laureate

As the nation’s official poet, the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry.

The position has existed under two separate titles: from 1937 to 1986 as "Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress" and from 1986 to present as "Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry." The name was changed by an act of Congress on December 20, 1985 (Public Law 99-194), and became effective January 3, 1986.

Results: 1-50 of 50
  • Biography
    Tracy K. Smith
    U.S. Poet Laureate, 2017-2019
    Tracy K. Smith was born in Falmouth, Massachusetts, in 1972, and raised in Fairfield, California. She is the author of four books of poetry. She is currently the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor in the Humanities, and Director of the Creative Writing Program, at Princeton University.
  • Biography
    Juan Felipe Herrera
    U.S. Poet Laureate, 2015-2017
    Juan Felipe Herrera was born in Fowler, California, in 1948. He is the author of 30 books of poetry, novels for young adults, and collections for children. Herrera held the Tomás Rivera Endowed Chair in the Creative Writing Department at the University of California, Riverside, where he taught until retiring in 2015.
  • Biography
    Charles Wright
    U.S. Poet Laureate, 2014-2015
    Charles Wright was born in Pickwick Dam, Tennessee, on August 25, 1935, and attended Davidson College and the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. He is the author of 24 poetry collections. Wright’s major honors include the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize in Poetry from the Library of Congress.
  • Biography
    Natasha Trethewey
    U.S. Poet Laureate, 2012-2014
    Natasha Trethewey was born in Gulfport, Mississippi, on April 26, 1966. She served two terms as the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States (2012-2014), and is the author of five collections of poetry, a book of nonfiction, and a memoir.
  • Biography
    Philip Levine
    U.S. Poet Laureate, 2011-2012
    Philip Levine was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1928, and served as the 18th U.S. Poet Laureate from 2011-2012. He published more than 20 volumes of poetry. In his later years, Levine divided his time between Fresno, California, and Brooklyn, New York, before his death in early 2015.
  • Biography
    W. S. Merwin
    U.S. Poet Laureate, 2010-2011
    W. S. Merwin (1927-2019) was born in New York City. He authored more than 30 poetry collections. Merwin also published more than 20 books of translation, numerous plays, and six books of prose. Merwin served as a special Bicentennial Consultant from 1999-2000, and as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry from 2010-2011.
  • Biography
    Kay Ryan
    U.S. Poet Laureate, 2008-2010
    Kay Ryan was born in 1945 in San Jose, California, and grew up in the San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert. She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles. Ryan’s honors include a MacArthur Genius Grant, a National Humanities Medal, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, and a Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.
  • Biography
    Charles Simic
    U.S. Poet Laureate, 2007-2008
    Charles Simic was born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, on May 9, 1938. He is the author of more than 30 poetry collections. Professor Emeritus at the University of New Hampshire, he teaches English and creative writing and lives in Strafford, New Hampshire.
  • Biography
    Donald Hall
    U.S. Poet Laureate, 2006-2007
    Donald Hall (1928-2018) was born in Hamden, Connecticut. He published more than 20 poetry collections. He also wrote four biographies, three plays, more than 10 children’s books and short stories, and six memoirs. Hall lived in Wilmot, New Hampshire, until his death.
  • Biography
    Ted Kooser
    U.S. Poet Laureate, 2004-2006
    Ted Kooser (1939- ) was born in Ames, Iowa, and received his bachelor’s degree from Iowa State and his master’s in English from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He is the author of more than 10 collections of poetry. He is currently a professor in the English department at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
  • Biography
    Louise Glück
    U.S. Poet Laureate, 2003-2004
    Louise Glück was born in New York City in 1943. She is the author of 15 poetry collections. Glück has taught English and creative writing at Williams College, Yale University, Boston University, the University of Iowa, and Goddard College. She currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Biography
    Billy Collins
    U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
    Billy Collins was born in New York City in 1941. In 2004, Collins was the inaugural recipient of the Poetry Foundation’s Mark Twain Award for humorous poetry. His other honors include fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2016, Collins was elected into The American Academy of Arts and Letters.
  • Biography
    Stanley Kunitz
    U.S. Poet Laureate, 2000-2001
    Stanley Kunitz (1905-2006) was born in Worcester, Massachusetts. In addition to editing, translating, and co-translating a number of books, Kunitz was the author of 12 collections of poetry. He taught at Bennington College, New York State Teachers College, the New School for Social Research, the University of Washington, Queens College, and Yale University, among other places.
  • Biography
    W. S. Merwin
    Special Bicentennial Consultant, 1999-2000
    W. S. Merwin (1927-2019) was born in New York City. He authored more than 30 poetry collections. Merwin also published more than 20 books of translation, numerous plays, and six books of prose. Merwin served as a special Bicentennial Consultant from 1999-2000, and as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry from 2010-2011.
  • Biography
    Louise Glück
    Special Bicentennial Consultant, 1999-2000
    Louise Glück was born in New York City in 1943. She is the author of 15 poetry collections. Glück has taught English and creative writing at Williams College, Yale University, Boston University, the University of Iowa, and Goddard College. She currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Biography
    Rita Dove
    Special Bicentennial Consultant, 1999-2000
    Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1952. She is the author of nine collections of poetry, most recently Collected Poems 1974-2004 (2016). Since 1989, Dove has taught at the University of Virginia, where she is currently the Commonwealth Professor of English.
  • Biography
    Robert Pinsky
    U.S. Poet Laureate, 1997-2000
    Robert Pinsky was born in Long Branch, New Jersey, in 1940. He is the author of nine poetry collections. In addition to editing five anthologies, Pinsky has published several books of prose. Pinsky has taught writing at Wellesley College, the University of California, Berkeley, and is currently a professor in the graduate writing program at Boston University. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Biography
    Robert Hass
    U.S. Poet Laureate, 1995-1997
    Robert Hass was born in San Francisco, California in 1941. He is the author of nine poetry collections. Hass served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2001 to 2007 and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2002. He is the Distinguished Professor in Poetry and Poetics at the University of California Berkeley.
  • Biography
    Rita Dove
    U.S. Poet Laureate, 1993-1995
    Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1952. She is the author of nine collections of poetry, most recently Collected Poems 1974-2004 (2016). Since 1989, Dove has taught at the University of Virginia, where she is currently the Commonwealth Professor of English.
  • Biography
    Mona Van Duyn
    U.S. Poet Laureate, 1992-1993
    Mona Van Duyn (1921-2004) was born in Waterloo, Iowa. She published 10 collections of poetry. For over 15 years, Van Duyn was a lecturer at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. She co-founded the quarterly literary journal Perspective in 1947 and served as co-editor until 1975.
  • Biography
    Joseph Brodsky
    U.S. Poet Laureate, 1991-1992
    Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996) was born in Leningrad (present-day St. Petersburg), Russia. He taught at Mount Holyoke College and Columbia, Yale, and Cambridge Universities, and was co-founder of the American Poetry & Literacy Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making poetry more central to American culture.
  • Biography
    Mark Strand
    U.S. Poet Laureate, 1990-1991
    Mark Strand (1934-2014) was born on Prince Edward Island, Canada. He published nearly 20 poetry collections. He taught at the University of Iowa, the University of Utah, the University of Chicago, and Columbia University, and had been a visiting professor at University of Virginia, Yale, and Harvard.
  • Biography
    Howard Nemerov
    U.S. Poet Laureate, 1988-1990
    Howard Nemerov (1920-1991) was born in New York City and was the author of 21 poetry collections. For a little more than 40 years he continued his teaching career at Bennington College, Brandeis University, and Washington University in St. Louis where he was the Edward Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor of English and Poet in Residence for more than 20 years.
  • Biography
    Richard Wilbur
    U.S. Poet Laureate, 1987-1988
    Richard Wilbur (1921-2017) was born in New York City. He was the author of 14 poetry collections. From 1961-1995 he served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. While a professor at Wesleyan University, he helped found the Wesleyan University Press poetry series in 1959.
  • Biography
    Robert Penn Warren
    U.S. Poet Laureate, 1986-1987
    Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989) was born in Kentucky and educated at Vanderbilt University and the University of California, Berkeley. Though perhaps best known for his 1946 novel All the King’s Men, he was the author of over a dozen books of poetry in addition to his prose work.
  • Biography
    Gwendolyn Brooks
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1985-1986
    Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) was born in Topeka, Kansas, in 1917. She was the author of more than 20 poetry collections. Brooks taught creative writing at Columbia College Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago State University, Elmhurst College, Columbia University, Clay College of New York, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Biography
    Robert Fitzgerald
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1984-1985
    Robert Fitzgerald (1910-1985) was born in Springfield, Illinois. He was the author of four poetry collections. Fitzgerald was the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard University from 1965-1981, and served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1968-1995.
  • Biography
    Reed Whittemore
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1984-1985
    Reed Whittemore (1919-2012) was born in New Haven, Connecticut. He published 11 books of poetry. A professor of English at the University of Maryland from 1967-84, Whittemore died in College Park, Maryland.
  • Biography
    Anthony Hecht
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1982-1984
    Anthony Hecht (1923-2004) was born in New York City in 1923. He was the author of eight poetry collections. Hecht taught at the University of Rochester from 1967-1985, as well as at Smith and Bard Colleges and Harvard, Georgetown, and Yale Universities. He was a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
  • Biography
    Maxine Kumin
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1981-1982
    Maxine Kumin (1925-2014) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was the author of 18 poetry collections. She also published more than 20 children’s books, a memoir, five novels, several books of essays, and a collection of short stories. Kumin taught writing at Princeton University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia University, and Tufts University.
  • Biography
    William Meredith
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1978-1980
    William Meredith (1919-2007) was born in New York City. He was the author of nine poetry collections. Meredith taught English at Princeton University as Woodrow Wilson Fellow in Writing and Resident Fellow in Creative Writing for four years, was an instructor at the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College for four years, and taught English at Connecticut College from 1955-1983.
  • Biography
    Robert Hayden
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1976-1978
    Robert Hayden (1913-1980) was born in Detroit, Michigan. He published nine collections of poetry. Hayden was appointed Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1976, the first African American to hold the position. He taught at Fisk University and the University of Michigan.
  • Biography
    Stanley Kunitz
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1974-1976
    Stanley Kunitz (1905-2006) was born in Worcester, Massachusetts. In addition to editing, translating, and co-translating a number of books, Kunitz was the author of 12 collections of poetry. He taught at Bennington College, New York State Teachers College, the New School for Social Research, the University of Washington, Queens College, and Yale University, among other places.
  • Biography
    Daniel Hoffman
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1973-1974
    Daniel Hoffman (1923-2013) was born in New York. He served as the 22nd Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1973 to 1974. Hoffman published nine books of poetry. He was a Chancellor Emeritus of the Academy of American Poets, Poet in Residence at St. John the Divine, and the Felix E. Schelling Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Biography
    Josephine Jacobsen
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1971-1973
    Josephine Jacobsen (1908-2003) was born in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada. She published 12 poetry collections. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she served on the poetry committee of Folger Library and on the literature panel for the National Endowment of the Arts from 1979-1983.
  • Biography
    William Stafford
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1970-1971
    William Stafford (1914-1993) was born in Hutchinson, Kansas. In 1970 Stafford was appointed the Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress, and in 1975 the Poet Laureate of Oregon. He taught at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, from 1948-1980. William Stafford died in 1993.
  • Biography
    William Jay Smith
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1968-1970
    William Jay Smith (1918-2015) was born in Winnfield, Louisiana. He published more than 50 books of poetry for adults and children. He served as poet in residence at Williams College from 1959-1967 and for two years as chairman of the writing division of the School of Arts at Columbia University. A Professor Emeritus at Hollins College.
  • Biography
    James Dickey
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1966-1968
    James Dickey (1923-1997) was born in Buckhead, Georgia. He was the author of more than 25 poetry collections. Among his honors were a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Order of the South Award. He held several teaching positions at Rice University and the University of Florida, and served as poet-in-residence and professor of English at the University of South Carolina.
  • Biography
    Stephen Spender
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1965-1966
    Stephen Spender (1909-1995) was born in London, England. He served as the 17th Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1965 to 1966, and published 23 poetry collections.
  • Biography
    Reed Whittemore
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1964-1965
    Reed Whittemore (1919-2012) was born in New Haven, Connecticut. He published 11 books of poetry. A professor of English at the University of Maryland from 1967-84, Whittemore died in College Park, Maryland.
  • Biography
    Howard Nemerov
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1963-1964
    Howard Nemerov (1920-1991) was born in New York City and was the author of 21 poetry collections. For a little more than 40 years he continued his teaching career at Bennington College, Brandeis University, and Washington University in St. Louis where he was the Edward Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor of English and Poet in Residence for more than 20 years.
  • Biography
    Louis Untermeyer
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1961-1963
    Untermeyer (1885-1977) was born in New York City. An especially prolific writer, he began publishing collections of poetry, essays, and criticism in the 1910s. His career spanned nearly seven decades, and he was the recipient of the Poetry Society of America’s Gold Medal. Much of his work is preserved at Indiana University.
  • Biography
    Richard Eberhart
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1959-1961
    Richard Eberhart (1905-2005) was born in Austin, Minnesota, in 1905. He published more than 30 poetry collections. A member of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Eberhart died at the age of 101.
  • Biography
    Robert Frost
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1958-1959
    Robert Frost (1874-1963) was born in San Francisco, California. Frost published more than 30 collections of poetry. He was invited to read at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy in 1961. He taught at Amherst College, the University of Michigan, Middlebury College, Harvard University, Columbia University, and Yale University, among other places.
  • Biography
    Randall Jarrell
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1956-1958
    Randall Jarrell (1914-1965) was born in Nashville, Tennessee. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Vanderbilt University, where he studied under Robert Penn Warren. Jarrell was noted for his criticism, in particular his essays on other American poets.
  • Biography
    William Carlos Williams
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1952
    Williams (1883-1963) was born in New Jersey and educated at the University of Pennsylvania. Revered for his modernist and imagist poetry, he published numerous poetry collections. Williams was named Consultant in Poetry in 1952, but did not serve.
  • Biography
    Conrad Aiken
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1950-1952
    Conrad Aiken (1889-1973) was born in Savannah, Georgia. A poet, fiction writer, and essayist, Aiken published 33 collections of poetry. In 1924, Aiken edited Emily Dickinson’s Selected Poems, the first English edition of her work.
  • Biography
    Elizabeth Bishop
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1949-1950
    Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979) was born in Worcester, Massachusetts. She was the author of nine poetry collections. She also published several books of prose, and edited and translated multiple volumes. Bishop served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1966-1979.
  • Biography
    Léonie Adams
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1948-1949
    Adams (1899-1988) was born in Brooklyn, New York. She studied at Barnard College, and began publishing poems while still a student there. She taught English at various institutions, including Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University.
  • Biography
    Robert Lowell
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1947-1948
    Robert Lowell (1917-1977) was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He was the author of 17 poetry collections. Lowell taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the University of Cincinnati, Boston University, Harvard University, and the New School for Social Research.
  • Biography
    Karl Shapiro
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1946-1947
    Karl Shapiro (1913-2000) was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and received his bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. He wrote and published V-Letter and Other Poems during his service in World War II’s Pacific Theater, and subsequently won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1945.
  • Biography
    Louise Bogan
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1945-1946
    Louise Bogan (1897-1970) was born in Livermore Falls, Maine. She authored six poetry collections. She was a visiting professor at the University of Washington, Seattle; the University of Chicago; the University of Arkansas; and Brandeis University.
  • Biography
    Robert Penn Warren
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1944-1945
    Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989) was born in Kentucky and educated at Vanderbilt University and the University of California, Berkeley. Though perhaps best known for his 1946 novel All the King’s Men, he was the author of over a dozen books of poetry in addition to his prose work.
  • Biography
    Allen Tate
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1943-1944
    Allen Tate (1899-1979) was born in Winchester, Kentucky. He was the author of 14 poetry collections. He taught at Kenyon College, the Southwestern College in Tennessee, Princeton University, the University of North Carolina, New York University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Minnesota.
  • Biography
    Joseph Auslander
    U.S. Consultant in Poetry, 1937-1941
    Joseph Auslander (1897-1965) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, and studied at the Sorbonne on a Parker Fellowship. Auslander published several books of poetry, co-authored two novels, and was the recipient of the Robert Frost Award and the Royal Saint Olav Medal.