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Academy of American Poets makes history with its first Latino president

Award-winning poet Ricardo Alberto Maldonado, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico, said poetry "is for everyone."
Ricardo Alberto Maldonado.
Ricardo Alberto Maldonado.Nancy Crampton

Award-winning poet Ricardo Alberto Maldonado, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico, will be the Academy of American Poets' first Latino executive director and president.

The organization, founded in 1934, publishes contemporary poetry books, awards grants, offers fellowships and runs and American Poets magazine.

Maldonado is a co-director of the Unterberg Poetry Center at New York City’s prestigious 92NY, where he has helped build readings and workshops, including a residency for Spanish-speaking poets and a program for high school students. He also helped found the group’s diversity, equity and inclusion committee.

Maldonado is a translator and the author of several poetry books. His first poetry collection, “The Life Assignment,” was a silver medalist for the Juan Felipe Herrera Best Poetry Book Award, as well as a finalist for the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award.

“I am honored to carry forward the organization’s mission of serving readers and supporting poets at all stages of their careers,” Maldonado, who will start his new position in July, said in a statement.

“Like the many millions of poets, educators, and readers across the world who have used its resources since 1934, I believe, to quote the Salvadoran poet Roque Dalton, ‘that poetry, like bread, is for everyone,’” Maldonado said about his new role.

Maldonado said he looked forward to working with the academy "to keep finding the essence of poetry in our world, and to reflect on how art can responsibly shape how we see ourselves in the present and into the future."