Poet Laureate

The Maryland Poet Laureate

The Poet Laureate of Maryland is an honorary State position in which the individual selected will serve at the discretion of the Governor for up to a four-year term renewable by the Governor’s consent. The Poet Laureate will provide public readings for the citizens of Maryland, ensuring that people in all geographic regions of the State have access to at least one reading during the term of service. As an honorary position the Poet Laureate will not receive compensation, though limited reimbursement for expenses incurred in the performance of duties is available.

In the 18th century, Ebenezer Cooke, author of The Sot-weed Factor: Or, A Voyage to Maryland (1708), called himself Maryland’s first Poet Laureate. However, Maryland’s official Poet Laureate position was formally established by the Maryland General Assembly in 1959 (Chapter 178, Acts of 1959; Code State Government Article, sec. 13-306); this law authorizes the Governor to appoint a citizen of the State as Poet Laureate of Maryland.

Poets Laureate have served the State since the inception of this Act in 1959. Past Poet Laureates include (in order of service): Maria B. Coker, Vincent Godfrey Burns, Lucille Clifton, Reed Whittemore, Linda Pastan, Roland Flint, Michael Collier, Michael Glaser, Stanley Plumly, and Grace Cavalieri.

Grace Cavalieri (2018 - )

Grace Cavalieri was appointed Maryland Poet Laureate on November 7, 2018 by Governor Larry Hogan. Grace Cavalieri is the author of 20 books and chapbooks of poetry, the latest are Other Voices, Other Lives (ASP, 2017;) and Life Upon The Wicked Stage: A Memoir (NAP/Scarith, 2015.) She's also written texts and lyrics performed for opera, television and film and has had 26 plays produced on American stages. Grace teaches poetry workshops throughout the country at numerous colleges. She produced and hosted "The Poet and the Poem," weekly, on WPFW-FM (1977-1997) presenting more than 2,000 poets to the nation. She now presents this series to public radio from the Library of Congress via NPR satellite and Pacifica Radio, celebrating 42 years on air in 2019.

Grace has received the 2013 George Garrett Award, the Pen-Fiction Award, the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting Silver Medal, and awards from the National Commission on Working Women, the WV Commission on Women, the American Association of University Women, The DC Poet Laureate Award from Dolores Kendrick, the Paterson lifetime Achievement Award, among others. She won a Paterson Excellence Award for What I Would do for Love, and The Bordighera Poetry Prize for Water on the Sun. She received the inaugural Columbia Merit Award from the Folger Shakespeare Library for "significant contributions to poetry."

*Photo credit: Tony Lewis

Grace Cavalieri is available for appearances. Please use the Appearance Request Form to make your request.

For further information regarding the Maryland Poet Laureate position please contact Keyonna Penick, Poet Laureate Liaison, at keyonna.penick1@maryland.gov.

If you need assistance in using this form, please contact the MSAC office at 410-767-6555 or TDD/TTY: 410-333-4519

Grace Cavalieri's original "Poet and the Poem" series aired on public radio in 1977. "The Poet and the Poem from the Library of Congress" is an outgrowth of that show premiering in 1997. Approximately twelve episodes are produced each season. Click here to listen! 

  • 1959-1962 Maria Briscoe Coker
  • 1962-1979 Vincent Godfrey Burns
  • 1979-1985 Lucille Clifton
  • 1985-1988 Reed Whittemore
  • 1991-1995 Linda Pastan
  • 1995-2000 Roland Flint
  • 2001-2004 Michael Collier
  • 2004-2008 Michael Glaser
  • 2008-2012 Stanley Plumly

Poet Laureate Liaison

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