Delaware Poet Laureate

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About the Poet Laureate Program

Delaware's Poet Laureate is an honorary position appointed by, and serving at the pleasure of, the Governor. The Poet Laureate serves as an advocate, educator, and presenter of poetry throughout the state. Activities for this position have included:

  • Promoting the importance of poetry and the literary arts as part of Delaware's cultural heritage
  • Speaking at such official state functions as the opening of state legislative sessions, the Governor’s Awards for the Arts, conferences, and public ceremonies
  • Presenting readings and poetry discussions in educational settings and community events across the state
  • Developing poetry programming and presentation opportunities in collaboration with the Division of the Arts to support the Division's program goals

The Delaware Division of the Arts promotes the Poet Laureate's events and activities and manages the Poet Laureate's calendar of appearances. The Division also provides a stipend to the Poet Laureate for appearances at nonprofit organizations.

History of Delaware’s Poet Laureate program

In 1947, the Delaware General Assembly passed a resolution authorizing an annual appointment by the Governor of a Poet Laureate for the State of Delaware. No specific duties were assigned to the position at that time.

An act to create the honorary office of Poet Laureate for the State of Delaware was passed by the General Assembly in 1964. The act authorized the Governor to appoint an individual to serve a two-year term and perform duties as requested by the Governor.

The act was amended in 1970 to authorize the Governor to appoint the Poet Laureate for a two-year term, performing duties as requested by the Governor and the Secretary of State.

A new bill passed in June 2000 replaced the two-year term limit of service with an open-ended, honorary position that serves at the pleasure of the Governor.

Since 1947, the State of Delaware has had sixteen (16) Poets Laureate.


History of Delaware Poets Laureate

Poets Laureate

Appointed by Governor

Term of Service

Edna Deemer Leach, Wilmington

Walter W. Bacon

1947 - 1949

Jeannette Slocomb Edwards, Wilmington

Elbert N. Carvel

1950 - 1954

Frances Shannon Flowers McNeal, Newark

J. Caleb Boggs

1954 - 1955

Katherine King Johnson, Dover

J. Caleb Boggs

1955 - 1956

David Hudson, Wilmington

J. Caleb Boggs

1956 - 1960

Alison Kimball Bradford, Wilmington

David P. Buckson

1961 - 1962

Marguerite Eleanor Weaver, Wilmington

Elbert N. Carvel

1962 - 1963

Mother M. Aloysius Peach, O.S.U., Wilmington

Elbert N. Carvel

1963 - 1965

Dr. Percival Rudolph Roberts, III, Newark

Charles L. Terry, Jr.

1965 - 1966

Joyce M. Carlson, Wilmington

Charles L. Terry, Jr.

1967 - 1968

Antonia Bissell Laird, Wilmington

Charles L. Terry, Jr.

1969 - 1970

Dr. Harry O. Eisenberg, New Castle

Russell W. Peterson

1971 - 1975

David Hudson, Wilmington

Sherman W. Tribbitt

1975 - 1979

E. Jean Lanyon, Wilmington

Pierre S. duPont IV

1979 - 1981*

Dr. Fleda Brown, Newark

Ruth Ann Minner

2001 - 2007

Dr. JoAnn Balingit, Newark

Ruth Ann Minner

2008 - 2015

Nnamdi Chukwoucha & Albert Mills, Wilmington

Jack Markell

2015 - present

*There were no Poets Laureate appointed from 1981 – 2001.