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$2.2m Mellon grants will boost local poetry programs

Eunice “Nicie” Panetta will lead the committee to select the award winners.
Eunice “Nicie” Panetta will lead the committee to select the award winners.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation made two grants to the Academy of American Poets, totaling $2.2 million, to support local programs.

About half of the money will be used for $50,000-$100,000 awards to poets laureate in states, cities, US territories, and tribal nations. Currently, many lack access to funding.

Eunice “Nicie” Panetta, a Boston area nonprofit adviser and former board chairwoman of the Academy of American Poets, will lead the committee to select the award winners, and panel members include Robert Pinsky, a Boston University professor and former US poet laureate. Applications are available at poets.org and can be submitted through March 3.

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Boston’s new poet laureate, Porsha Olayiwola, receives a stipend and programming budget. Massachusetts does not appoint one, making it one of only five states without an official laureate.

The second grant will go toward the Poetry Coalition, a national alliance of over 20 organizations, including Mass Poetry. The grant will help fund the coalition’s work over the next four years, including a fellowship program that will help place people in paid, part-time positions at various member organizations.

“Despite the recognition and esteem received from their communities, state and city poets laureate often do not receive resources commensurate with their creative output and public service,’’ Mellon Foundation president Elizabeth Alexander, a prize-winning poet, essayist, and memoirist, said in a statement. “I hope that Mellon’s support will remind us of the power of language and human exchange that poetry uniquely offers.”


Lillian Brown can be reached at lillian.brown@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lilliangbrown.