M. Bartley Seigel (HU) has been named a 2021 Poet Laureate Fellow by the Academy of American Poets. Seigel, director of the Michigan Tech Writing Center and an associate professor of creative writing and literature, is one of only 23 poets laureate of cities and states across the U.S. to receive the honor.
“I’m really humbled and honored by this fellowship,” said Seigel, who was selected as the 2021-22 Upper Peninsula Poet Laureate in January. “While it’s always been something of a challenge making art at an institution where attention is so firmly fixed elsewhere, my unique positionality in this pond of scientists and engineers has held me accountable to my words in unexpected and fortuitous ways. I wouldn’t be the poet I am were I not where I am, and were I not in the close company of so many different and exceptional minds.”
As a Poet Laureate Fellow, Seigel receives an award of $50,000 in support of his art, a portion of which is set aside to lead a public poetry program. He intends to collaborate with regional public and tribal high school teachers to launch the Upper Peninsula Young Poets Program. The program will introduce high school-aged students in the U.P. to the diversity and transformative power of poetry, encourage their emerging voices and provide them with a free college-level writing workshop.
In a press release announcing the 2021 Fellows, President and Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets Jennifer Benka said, “As we begin emerging from COVID-19 restrictions, poetry — which has provided such comfort these past 15 months — will continue to be a source of insight. We are honored and humbled to fund poets who are devoted to their own craft and also their community. Poets will most certainly help guide us forward.”
Through its Poets Laureate Fellowship program, the Academy of American Poets has become the largest financial supporter of poets in the nation. The fellowship program is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which in January 2020 awarded the Academy $4.5 million to fund the program.