The Academy of American Poets has announced its 2020 Poets Laureate Fellows. The fellowships are intended to help the poets lead civic poetry programs in their communities over the next year. Each of the 23 fellows serve as poets laureate of states, cities, and counties, with one serving as poet laureate of the Navajo Nation.

The fellows will receive $50,000 each for a combined total of $1.1 million. In addition, the Academy will provide $66,500 to 12 community-focused nonprofit organizations across the country to support the fellows’ proposed projects.

“As we face the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic, more and more people are turning to poetry for comfort and courage,” Jennifer Benka, president and executive director of the Academy of American Poets, said in a statement. “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.”

Funding for the fellowships comes from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which awarded the Academy $4.5 million in funding this January, more than double the amount granted the year prior. The award will fund the program through 2022.

The 2020 Poets Laureate Fellows and the communities they serve are:

  • Honey Bell-Bey (Cuyahoga County, Ohio)
  • Tina Cane (R.I.)
  • Tina Chang (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
  • Nnamdi Chukwuocha and Al Mills, a.k.a. the Twin Poets (Del.)
  • Rosemarie Dombrowski (Phoenix, Ariz)
  • Beth Ann Fennelly (Miss.)
  • Angelo Geter (Rock Hill, S.C.)
  • Margaret Gibson (Conn.)
  • Rodney Gomez (McAllen, Tex)
  • Elizabeth Jacobson (Santa Fe, N. Mex.)
  • Stuart Kestenbaum (Me.)
  • Susan Landgraf (Auburn, Wash)
  • Maria Lisella (Queens, N.Y.),
  • Porsha Olayiwola (Boston, Mass.)
  • Alexandria Peary (N.H.)
  • Emmy Pérez (Tex.),
  • Mary Ruefle (Vt.)
  • Janice Lobo Sapigao (Santa Clara County, Calif.)
  • John Warner Smith (La.)
  • Laura Tohe (Navajo Nation)
  • Amie Whittemore (Murfreesboro, Tenn.)
  • Assétou Xango (Aurora, Colo.)