Pioneers in Poetry: New York State’s Poet Laureate

Last week, we talked about a poetry project that brought together verse with the bustling, busy streets and train lines of New York City. The mind behind that unique project was Marie Howe, the state poet laureate of New York. So how did Howe come to be poet laureate of the Empire State, and what has she accomplished during her tenure? Read on to find out!

 Marie Howe’s Journey to Becoming New York State’s Poet Laureatenew-york-state-poet-laureate

 Like many state poet laureates, Marie Howe gained distinction in the field of poetry through her published works. She has published three complete volumes of poetry, most recently her 2008 collection “The Kingdom of Ordinary Time.” She was the recipient of a Lavan Younger Poets Prize from the American Academy of Poets, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and her very first collection, “The Good Thief,” won the 1987 Open Competition of the National Poetry Series.   

 Marie Howe has also had poems published in some of the most high-profile literary journals in the country, including The Atlantic, AGNI, Ploughshares, the Harvard Review, and The New Yorker. With such an impressive resume on her side, it comes as no surprise that she was named New York’s poet laureate!

 The Themes of Marie Howe’s Poetry

 In her three published collections, Marie Howe has focused on the themes of grief, relationships, and loss. These universal themes are discussed in her own unique voice, but they remain universal nonetheless. As such, they are themes that you can try to tackle in your own writing. When you write about large themes like loss, it is helpful to frame them in the context of your own experiences. Writing about the loss of a loved one, for instance, can not only help to ground your work, but can also help you to express your feelings in a constructive way.

Get inspired by the writings of Marie Howe and other poets when you compose your own pieces. By reading the work of acclaimed poets like Howe, you learn more about what makes a good poem and what topics are interesting to you as both a writer and reader.  Try drafting a poem that responds in some way to the work of another poet to put what you have learned into practice. If you like what you write, consider submitting it to our poetry contest and show your work to the world!



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