5 Writers of Color Who Should Win the Poets Laureate Fellowship

By Sameer Rao Jan 17, 2019

The New York Times reported Tuesday (January 15) that The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation granted $2.2 million to the Academy of American Poets (AAP). The arts enrichment organization will use $1 million of that money to support the Poetry Coalition, an alliance that counts groups like CantoMundo and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop as members.

The remaining money will fund fellowships of $50,000 to $100,000 to empower state, city, tribal and other domestic poets laureates. A panel of literary authorities, including Natalie Diaz and AAP co-chancellor Natasha Trethewey will announce the grantees in April. 

The Times notes that the American Academy of Poets Laureate Fellowship will aid these writers, who often don’t receive funding alongside their titles, in their civic arts initiatives. Here are five poets laureate of color whose creative and educational work—and communities—could benefit from this support:

Jaki Shelton Green (North Carolina)

Raquel Salas Rivera (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Laura Tohe (Navajo Nation)

Kealoha (Hawai‘i)

Porsha Olayiwola (Boston, Massachusetts)