Governor O'Malley Appoints Alice McDermott as the Chair of Maryland's 2009 Poet Laureate Selection Committee
Committee to Nominate Maryland’s Ninth Poet Laureate
Annapolis, MD (October 9, 2008) – Governor Martin O’Malley, joined by St. John’s College President Christopher B. Nelson, today announced the appointment of Alice McDermott as the Chair of the State Poet Laureate Selection Committee to help choose Maryland’s ninth Poet Laureate. The announcement was made on the historic campus of St. John’s College. Maryland’s current and eighth Poet Laureate is Michael Glaser who has served since his appointment in 2004.
“I want to thank our current Poet Laureate, Michael Glaser, who has inspired Marylanders young and old to enjoy poetry, for his service to our great State,” said Governor O’Malley. “Mr. Glaser is a very accomplished poet and has worked with hundreds of teachers and over 7,000 children across the State. Replacing Mr. Glaser is a very tall order, and it is my pleasure to announce that Alice McDermott will chair the Poet Laureate Selection Committee to nominate Maryland’s ninth Poet Laureate.”
Mr. Glaser is a Professor Emeritus at St. Mary’s College of Maryland where he served as both a professor and an administrator for over 35 years. He co-founded and directed the College’s biannual Literary Festival and the annual Voices reading series. For over 20 years, he has served as a Maryland State Arts Council poet-in-the-schools and also has served twice as a guest artist at the Maryland Artist and Teacher’s Institute. His work includes: A Lover’s Eye, In the Men’s Room and Other Poems (winner of the 1996 Painted Bride Quarterly chapbook competition), Being a Father, Fire before the Hands (winner of the Anabiosis Press, 2007 Chapbook prize), and Remembering Eden. Over 500 of his poems have been published in literary journals, newspapers, and anthologies. Mr. Glaser also edited two anthologies of Maryland poets, The Cooke Book and Weavings 2000: The Maryland Millennial Anthology. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Denison University and his Master of Arts and Ph.D. from Kent State University. He currently lives in St. Mary’s City, Maryland with his wife Kathleen and his five children.
“I have treasured the opportunity to travel the length and breadth of this state and share with so many of the good people of Maryland a sense of the great value that both reading and writing poetry can have on our spirits and our lives as citizens,” Michael Glaser said.
Alice McDermott is Johns Hopkins University’s Richard A. Macksey Professor of the Humanities. She grew up in New York and attended the State University of New York at Oswego, where she received a Bachleor of Arts in 1975. She also received a Master of Arts from the University of New Hampshire in 1978.
An award-winning author, McDermott’s short stories and articles have appeared in a number of national magazines, as well as the New York Times and the Washington Post. She has also published six novels, three of which were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. Her novel Charming Billy was the winner of the 1998 National Book Award, and her other works have been finalists for the National Book Award and the Pen/Faulkner Award, and nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. McDermott was also the 1987 recipient of a Whiting Writers Award and the 2008 recipient of the Corrington Award for Literary Excellence.
“Poetry acknowledges our collective spirit, our common experience, while celebrating, too, the complexity of the human situation, and the value of each individual voice,” said Ms. McDermott. “Poetry reminds us that our language, so often abused and misused, is a also a great gift that can inspire, sustain and unite. I look forward to working with Governor O’Malley and the members of the selection committee as we choose from among Maryland’s many fine poets our next Poet Laureate.”
“At a time when arts and humanities often take a back seat in education, it’s encouraging that the State of Maryland recognizes the enduring value of poetry,” St. John’s President Christopher Nelson said. “By bringing poetry to classrooms and public venues all over Maryland, the state’s poet laureate provides a great service to citizens. Poets from Homer to Wordsworth to Maryland’s own Michael Glaser have helped us to make sense of the human experience, to recognize our flaws and celebrate our triumphs, and to give us the power—as Wordsworth wrote— ‘to see into the life of things.’”
The Poet Laureate position was formally established by the Maryland General Assembly in 1959 and authorizes the Governor to appoint a citizen of the State as Poet Laureate of Maryland. Eight Poet Laureates have served for the State since the inception of this Act in 1959. Past Poet Laureates include (in order of service): Maria B. Coker, Vincent Godfrey Burns, Lucille Clifton, Reed Whittemore, Linda Pastan, Roland Flint, Michael Collier and most recently, Michael Glaser.
In 2004, the Maryland State Arts Council developed an open and inclusive selection process that welcomed Poet Laureate nominations from citizens across the State. The Poet Laureate of Maryland is an honorary State position in which the individual selected will serve at the discretion of the Governor for up to a four-year term renewable by the Governor’s consent. The Poet Laureate will provide public readings for the citizens of Maryland, ensuring that people in all geographic regions of the State have access to at least one reading during the term of service. As an honorary position the Poet Laureate will not receive compensation, though limited reimbursement for expenses incurred in the performance of duties is available.
Nominees must meet the following requirements to be eligible for the position of Poet Laureate:
- Nominee must be a six month legal resident of the State;
- Nominee must be available and able to travel throughout the State;
- Nominee must demonstrate a proven history of substantial publication of individual poems and/or books, including at least one work that is not self-published or by a vanity press;
- Nominee must have received critical acclaim as demonstrated by special honors, awards, or other recognitions.
Alice McDermott, along with the State Poet Laureate Selection Committee, will determine who will be chosen as Maryland’s ninth Poet Laureate. The deadline for nominations for the next Poet Laureate is December 1, 2008.