JoAnn Balingit

Picture of JoAnn BalingitJoAnn Balingit is Delaware's 16th Poet Laureate, appointed by Governor Ruth Ann Minner in May 2008. A resident of Delaware since 1990, JoAnn was born in Columbus, Ohio and grew up in Lakeland, Florida, third eldest in a family of 12 children. She holds Masters degrees from The University of California, Irvine and Indiana University, and an EdD from the University of Delaware. JoAnn taught English to children and adults in Tangier, Morocco, and for several years in Lisbon, Portugal. She has taught writing at the K12 and university levels, and was a librarian and teacher trainer in technology for ten years in the public schools. JoAnn is the mother of four children-born in Morocco, Portugal, Kentucky and Delaware. She lives with her husband in Newark.

JoAnn is the author of a collection of poems, Words for House Story (WordTech Editions, July 2013) and two poetry chapbooks. Her previous work, Forage, was awarded the 2011 Whitebird Chapbook Prize. She has been the recipient of an individual artist fellowship from the Delaware Division of the Arts, two Creative Fellowships from The Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, and a Global Filipino Literary Award in poetry. Her poems have appeared in Best New Poets, DIAGRAM, PoetsArtists, Salt Hill, Smartish Pace, Verse Daily and elsewhere in journals and anthologies.

JoAnn enjoys sharing her work with Delaware audiences at libraries, schools, universities and community organizations. She represented Delaware at the New Hampshire Writers Project "Poetry and Politics" Conference in 2011 and read poems about the nature of time at Chicago's Woman Made Gallery in 2012.

JoAnn sees poetry as a facilitator of conversation and community, a way for individuals to navigate the wonders and challenges of being alive. With attention to craft, she believes, poetic language can create vital understandings between people. She writes a News Journal column “On Poetry” to encourage readers to “try” poems; and she urges parents, teachers and poets to support Poets-in-the-Schools, a program bringing published poets into K12 classrooms to share their love of reading and writing poems. To encourage Delaware's young authors, JoAnn coordinates the Delaware Writing Region for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, a national recognition program for students in grades 7-12.


  • Words for House Story (WordTech Editions, 2013)
  • Forage (Wings Press, 2011), Whitebird Chapbook Prize
  • Your Heart and How it Works (Spire Press, 2009), 2010 Global Filipino Literary Award
  • Anthologized in Best New Poets 2007, DIAGRAM.2, Endless Skyway, Returning a Borrowed Tongue, and Voices of the Asian American Experience (ABC-CLIO, 2012)

As Poet Laureate, Dr. Balingit seeks to promote the art of poetry throughout Delaware by supporting opportunities for:

  • Delaware students to read great poetry and to write poetry
  • Delaware poets to develop their craft and promote their work
  • Delawareans to hear poetry readings by outstanding poets

To read more about Delaware's Poet Laureate, visit JoAnn's website at

About Delaware's 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. Proposed activities for this position include:

  • 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 financial support to non-profit organizations to assist with appearance fees.

Request a Poet Laureate Appearance

The Poet Laureate is not currently scheduling appearances. Please check back.


bundle of ice
   airy puck
hollow sponge
   riddle of desire

vernal fist
   pale outpost
recluse colony

leaflight, earthlight
   fragile grasp
body in body
   holding forth

   as you, love, cradle
my corona of fears
   I burn
like a bud in your palms

as I, love, lift
   each petal you speak
you float
   like wrack in my arms—

   we have been falling
through each other
   ever since sleep
had a dream

Reprinted by permission of WordTech Communications LLC from Words for House Story by JoAnn Balingit. ©2013 by JoAnn Balingit.

“I wrote this poem on commission for a teacher and poetry lover, Priscilla Goldsmith.  As the highest bidder at a fundraising gala for the Newark Arts Alliance, Priscilla won my offer to write a personalized poem. She told me she was fascinated by the way wild bloodroot shoots and blossoms emerged early each spring on the shaded slopes of her big backyard. She told me that the way the bloodroot’s single leaf cradles the short-lived white flower made her think about how she and her husband had learned to comfort each other in times of need. With that information, I hunted for bloodroots on my own in the White Clay Creek State Park early the next spring. Then I wrote the poem.”