Thus far in our Pioneers in Poetry series, we’ve covered the state poet laureates of New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, the District of Columbia, Colorado, and California. Today, we’re shifting over to the East Coast to highlight the state poet laureate of Maryland, Stanley Plumly. Read on to learn more about Plumly and his tenure as Maryland’s chief representative of verse!
Maryland has had an official position of poet laureate since 1959, when a provision was written into the Maryland State Government Code. The stipulations behind it are similar to those of other state poet laureate positions: Maryland’s laureate must be a state resident, have had significant works published, and is appointed at the discretion of the governor from a list of nominees by the Maryland State Arts Council. Since 1959, Maryland has had nine poet laureates; Stanley Plumly is the most recent poet to hold that seat.
Stanley Plumly has been a Maryland Distinguished University Professor since 1998 and he was the founder of the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at the University of Maryland. He has published a total of nine books of poetry, including his most recent work , “Old Heart.” His work has garnered some high-profile praise; not only has Plumly been the recipient of eight different Pushcart Prizes, but he has also been awarded a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship, a Paterson Poetry Prize, and an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Plumly’s stellar reputation as a teacher of poetry is supported by his extensive teaching experience. He has been a professor at Ivy League colleges, including Princeton and Columbia, and the University of Iowa, Michigan, and Maryland.
Does your passion for poetry make you want to teach as Plumly has? Start small: share your work with friends and family, discuss a favorite poet or poem, or even attend a class yourself to further your understanding of the world of poetry. And, as always, continue to write; drafting a poem and learning what does and does not make it work is the best way to teach yourself about good writing. If you like what you write, consider submitting it to our poetry contest and show your work to the world!