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Kenn Nesbitt Announced as Next Children’s Poet Laureate


The Poetry Foundation recognizes the best contemporary children’s poetry at its annual Pegasus Awards.

CHICAGO — The Poetry Foundation is pleased to announce that poet Kenn Nesbitt will serve as the next Children’s Poet Laureate: Consultant in Children’s Poetry to the Poetry Foundation. In awarding the $25,000 cash prize and two-year title, the Poetry Foundation aims to raise awareness that children have a natural receptivity to poetry and are its most appreciative audience, especially when poems are written specifically for them.

Kenn Nesbitt, 51, is the author of numerous books of poetry for children, including The Tighty-Whitey Spider (2010), My Hippo Has the Hiccups (2009), and Revenge of the Lunch Ladies (2007). His books abound with humorous and silly situations, and his poems have appeared in hundreds of anthologies, magazines, and textbooks worldwide. His poems have also been adapted to other media, including music and film. Nesbitt wrote his first children’s poem, “Scrawny Tawny Skinner,” in 1994, and published his first poetry book, My Foot Fell Asleep, in 1998.

Nesbitt succeeds J. Patrick Lewis to become the fourth Children’s Poet Laureate, and the youngest ever to hold the title.

“With the appointment of Kenn Nesbitt, we welcome a new generation of poets who will continue to delight the hearts and excite the minds of children everywhere,” said Poetry Foundation president John Barr.

Inaugural Children’s Poet Laureate Jack Prelutsky was in attendance at last night’s Pegasus Awards, held at the Poetry Foundation in Chicago. The Poetry Foundation installed the office of the Children’s Poet Laureate in 2006, after its research study, Poetry in America, demonstrated that a lifelong love for poetry is most likely to result if cultivated early in childhood and reinforced thereafter.

During his laureateship, Nesbitt will deliver two major public readings for children and their families, teachers, and librarians. He will also serve as an advisor to the Poetry Foundation on children’s literature, and will likely engage in a variety of projects and events across the country to help instill a love of poetry among the nation’s youngest readers.

Born in Berkeley, California, Nesbitt grew up in Fresno and San Diego and majored in computer science at National University in San Diego. He currently lives in Spokane, Washington, with his wife and two children.

Read an interview between previous Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis and Kenn Nesbitt. Watch for Nesbitt’s monthly children’s books recommendations starting in July.

Last night’s Pegasus Awards at the Poetry Foundation also honored 2013 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize winner Marie Ponsot. Ponsot, 92, was awarded $100,000—one of the nation’s largest literary prizes—for her extraordinary lifetime contribution to poetry.

A slide show recognizing Marie Ponsot’s life and work is also available.

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About the Pegasus Awards

The Poetry Foundation has established a family of prizes with an emphasis on new awards to under-recognized poets and types of poetry. Inaugurated in 2004, the Pegasus Awards are announced annually. The Poetry Foundation believes that targeted prizes can help redress underappreciated accomplishments, diversify the kinds of poetry being written, and widen the audience for the art form. With this in mind, it intends to create additional prizes in the years ahead.

About the Poetry Foundation

The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs. For more information, please visit poetryfoundation.org.

Follow the Poetry Foundation and Poetry on Facebook at facebook.com/poetryfoundation or on Twitter @PoetryFound.

POETRY FOUNDATION | 61 West Superior Street | Chicago, IL 60654 | 312.787.7070

Media Contact: Elizabeth Burke-Dain, 312.799.8016eburkedain@poetryfoundation.org

Media Contact: Kristin Gecan, 312.799.8065kgecan@poetryfoundation.org

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