“I believe, to quote the Salvadoran poet Roque Dalton, ‘that poetry, like bread, is for everyone.’”
So begins the reign of Ricardo Maldonado at the Academy of American Poets, announced on Wednesday to be its new president and executive director—the first Latino poet to be so named.
Maldonado was born and raised in Puerto Rico and in recent years (alongside major accolades) has devoted himself to serving as co-director of 92NY’s Unterberg Poetry Center in New York City, and founding the Center’s Young Writers Workshop, a program for high school students. His poetry collection The Life Assignment was a finalist for the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award and a Silver Medalist
for the Juan Felipe Herrera Best Poetry Book Award.
The academy released a celebratory statement ahead of the announcement:
“We searched for a leader who was not merely seeking a job in poetry, but who was already fully invested in living out the vocation of poetry. As a poet, translator, and arts administrator, Ricardo Maldonado brings to the Academy of American Poets an intense passion for our mission, stellar nonprofit leadership experience, strong project management skills, a commitment to education and community-building, and a depth of knowledge about American poetry from the nineteenth century poets to the cutting-edge voices of today,” said Board Chair Tess O’Dwyer. “The Board of Directors voted unanimously and enthusiastically to appoint Ricardo based on our belief that he will not only sustain the Academy’s marvelous array of poetry offerings but will also strengthen, expand, and deepen them in the years to come.”
The Academy of American Poets awards over $1.3 million each year to dozens of poets. You can find out more here. Congratulations to its incoming president!