RI's state poet receives award from American Academy of Poets

The Cranston Herald ·

The Academy of American Poets has announced that Tina Cane, State Poet of Rhode Island, has been named one of its 2020 Poets Laureate Fellows.

Cane, a resident of East Providence, will receive $50,000 to support community-based poetry projects throughout the Ocean State.

The 23 individuals named by the Academy serve as Poets Laureate of states, cities, counties, and the Navajo Nation and will be leading civic poetry programs in their respective communities in the year ahead. They will each receive $50,000 for a combined total of $1.1 million.

In Rhode Island, Cane will bring visiting poet workshops and residencies to underserved schools and community centers in Rhode Island. She will also organize and curate a reading series at the RISD Museum and local bookstores, as well as bring her Poetry-in-Motion, RI program to every public school in the state through a broadside poster initiative. In addition, Cane will develop the Youth Poetry Ambassador program she launched in 2017, with Rhode Island Center for the Book, to further engage youth across the state.

“As we face the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are turning to poetry for comfort and courage. We are honored and humbled in this moment of great need to fund poets who are talented artists and community organizers, who will most certainly help guide their communities forward,” said Jennifer Benka, president and executive director of the Academy of American Poets.

In reacting to the award, Cane said: “I love serving as poet laureate of Rhode Island and am thrilled beyond measurement to receive this recognition from the Academy of American Poets. Support for poetry and the arts is crucial – during this time especially – and I am so grateful to be able to do more of what I love.”

Randall Rosenbaum, executive director of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, congratulated Cane on her award and recognition. “It’s been our pleasure and honor to support the work of our amazing State Poet,” he said. “We’re delighted that Tina has received this national recognition, and we look forward to her continued good work on behalf of poetry in Rhode Island, supported in part by this generous award.”

Kate Lenz, director of the Rhode Island Center for the Book, said: “I’m thrilled for Tina! Her commitment and power engages young poets to become comfortable with themselves and find their voices to help address issues important to their communities. The Rhode Island Center for the Book looks forward to working with her on developing the Youth Poetry Program to further engage youth across the state.”

Through its Poets Laureate Fellowship program, the Academy has become the largest financial supporter of poets in the nation. The fellowship program is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which, in January of this year, awarded the Academy $4.5 million. The award will fund the program in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

“We are gratified to support the poets laureate fellows as they engage their communities around the unprecedented challenges of our moment, making work that provides meaning, brings beauty, and helps us, in Lucille Clifton’s words, ‘sail through this to that,’” said Elizabeth Alexander, poet and president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Born and raised in New York City, Cane serves as the State Poet of Rhode Island where she is the founder and director of Writers-in-the-Schools, RI and an instructor with the writing community, Frequency Providence. Her poems and translations have appeared in numerous publications, including The Literary Review, Two Serious Ladies, Tupelo Quarterly, Jubliat and The Common. She also co-produces, with Atticus Allen, the podcast, “Poetry Dose” and is the creator/curator of the distance reading series “Poetry is Bread.”

Cane is the author of “The Fifth Thought” (Other Painters Press, 2008), “Dear Elena: Letters for Elena Ferrante, poems with art by Esther Solondz” (Skillman Avenue Press, 2016), “Once More With Feeling” (Veliz Books, 2017) and “Body of Work” (Veliz Books, 2019). In 2016, Tina received the Fellowship Merit Award in Poetry, from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.

Tina Cane, poet, Poets Laureate


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