Culture and Recreation


Is there an American poet laureate?

Yes, in 1985 the U.S. Congress authorized the naming of a national poet laureate. In 1986 Kentucky-born man of letters Robert Penn Warren (1909–1989) became the country’s first poet laureate. Among his works are the novels All the King’s Men (1946, Pulitzer prize) and A Place to Come to (1977); several volumes of poetry; and essays published in the anthology I’ll Take My Stand (1930). He was also the editor (1935–42) of the literary journal The Southern Review. Warren’s successors have included Joseph Brodsky; Mona Van Duyn, the first woman to receive the honor; and Rita Dove, the first African American to receive the honor. The complete list of poet laureates is available on the Library of Congress’s Web site (


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