Patricia Smith and Ilya Kaminsky named Academy of American Poets Chancellors

Ilya Kaminsky, professor of creative writing, and Patricia Smith, visiting professor of creative writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts and the Princeton Atelier, have been named Academy of American Poets Chancellors. Smith will join the Princeton faculty as professor of creative writing, effective Sept. 1.

Chancellors serve six-year terms during which they consult with the organization on artistic matters, judge the organization’s largest legacy prizes for American poets, and act as ambassadors of poetry in the world at large. Since 1946, 125 distinguished poets have been elected to this prestigious position, including Elizabeth Alexander, W.H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, Lucille Clifton, Rita Dove, Yusef Komunyakaa, Naomi Shihab Nye, Claudia Rankine, Adrienne Rich, Charles Simic, Mark Strand and Arthur Sze. 

Kaminsky and Smith are two of the four poets newly named as Chancellors.

“All that we publish, program and promote at the Academy of American Poets is fueled by the collective wisdom, imagination and expertise of our Chancellors,” said Tess O’Dwyer, Chair of the Board. “It’s exhilarating to congratulate poets extraordinaire Kimiko Hahn, Ilya Kaminsky, Ed Roberson and Patricia Smith.”

Ilya Kaminsky

Ilya Kaminsky

Ilya Kaminsky, professor of creative writing, joined Princeton in January. Raised in Odessa, Ukraine, he lost most of his hearing at age 4 after a misdiagnosis. His family received asylum from the U.S. government in 1993. He is the author of “Deaf Republic” — named a New York Times Notable Book for 2019 and Best Book of 2019 by dozens of other publications — and “Dancing in Odessa.” He is the co-editor and co-translator of many other books, including “Ecco Anthology of International Poetry” and “Dark Elderberry Branch: Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva.” His poems have been translated into over 20 languages. Kaminsky was selected by the BBC as “one of the 12 artists that changed the world.”

His next book, “Silent City,” is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in 2024.

This spring, Kaminsky will teach undergraduate poetry workshops for the Program in Creative Writing.

Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith, visiting professor of creative writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts and the Princeton Atelier, is the winner of the 2021 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, an award for lifetime achievement from the Poetry Foundation. She is the author of eight books of poetry, including “Incendiary Art,” winner of the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Award for Poetry, the 2017 LA Times Book Prize, the 2018 NAACP Image Award and finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize; “Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah,” winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets; and “Blood Dazzler,” a National Book Award finalist.

She is a distinguished professor for the City University of New York.

Her next poetry book, "Unshuttered," a collection of dramatic monologues accompanied by 19th-century photos of African Americans, will be published Feb. 15 by Northwestern University Press.

This spring, Smith will co-teach a Princeton Atelier course “How to Find a Missing Black Woman” and an introductory poetry workshop for the Program in Creative Writing.