ILLINOIS’ FIFTH POET LAUREATE WILL PROMOTE POETRY AT STATE AND NATIONAL LEVELS, WILL BRING ADDITIONAL FOCUS ON POETRY TO BOTH ILLINOIS HUMANITIES AND THE ILLINOIS ARTS COUNCIL AGENCY
CHICAGO, April 5, 2021 – Illinois Humanities and the Illinois Arts Council Agency announced today that Illinois Poet Laureate Angela Jackson, who was appointed by Governor JB Pritzker last November (2020), will be in residence with Illinois Humanities. Ms. Jackson will be involved in the work of both organizations.
“Angela Jackson is a talented storyteller whose poems, books, and plays have captured the hearts of readers for decades,” said Illinois First Lady MK Pritzker. “As Illinois’ Poet Laureate, she will be an invaluable resource to Illinois Humanities and the Illinois Arts Council Agency, offering guidance and support to the poets of tomorrow.”
Ms. Jackson, who follows Kevin Stein as the fifth Illinois poet to serve as state poet laureate, has said that poetry can lift and illuminate lives, uniting people.
“Illinois Humanities is honored and humbled Ms. Jackson will be in residence with us,” said Gabrielle Lyon, Executive Director, Illinois Humanities. “We are eager to celebrate and amplify Ms. Jackson’s vital contributions to the world of poetry and the Black Arts Movement. And we know that having the Illinois Poet Laureate in residence with Illinois Humanities will be especially inspiring to young people around the state who participate in our Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards.”
Joshua Davis-Ruperto, Executive Director of the Illinois Arts Council Agency, which will co-sponsor the poet laureate’s work, said the agency will partner with Ms. Jackson on numerous projects, including the Agency’s programs Poetry Out Loud and One State Together in the Arts. The agency will also act as a liaison to the state and provide financial and technical support for the poet laureate. “The Illinois Arts Council Agency congratulates Angela Jackson on becoming Illinois’ fifth Poet Laureate and joins Illinois Humanities in recognizing her invaluable talent. Ms. Jackson will bring her passion and extensive knowledge of poetry and writing to Illinois’ communities,” said Joshua Davis-Ruperto. “We are excited about working with her on a diverse spectrum of programs and presentations that will instill the love of poetry and writing in children, teens and adults alike around the state.”
More About Angela Jackson
In addition to All These Roads Be Luminous: Poems Selected and New, Ms. Jackson’s other works are Voodoo/Love Magic, (1974), The Greenville Club in Four Black Poets, (1978) and The Man with the White Liver, (1987). Her play Shango Diaspora: An African-American Myth of Womanhood And Love was published in Woman that I Am, (1993), Types of Drama, (1997) and Roots to Branches (2007); it was performed in Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Barbados. Comfort Stew premiered at ETA Theatre in Chicago in 1997.
Among many awards and honors she has received are five Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards for Fiction (1997, 1988, 1986, 1980, 1979), and one Illinois Arts Council Literary Award for Poetry (1986), the Illinois Arts Council Creative Writing Fellowship for Fiction (1979) and Playwriting (2000) and a National Endowment of the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship for Fiction (1980). She was selected as a U. S. Representative in Literature to FESTAC (2nd World Black and African Festival of Art and Culture) in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1977, and was one of the ‘Women to Watch in the 80s,’ by Ebony Magazine in 1982. Her poetry and fiction have been published in many journals and anthologies and her novel, Where I Must Go, was published by Triquarterly Books / Northwestern University Press in September 2009.
About the Office of the Illinois Poet Laureate
In June of 2020, the Governor and First Lady Pritzker announced the formation of the 2020 Illinois Poet Laureate Search Committee to fill the position that has been vacant since late 2017. First Lady MK Pritzker served as the Honorary Chair and final judge in the selection process for the next Illinois Poet Laureate. The selection committee, comprised of poets, writers, and academics from across the state, reviewed nominations submitted by the public and recommended three finalists to be the state’s next Poet Laureate. The first Illinois Poet Laureate, Howard B. Austin, was named in 1936. Only three other poets have held the title since, Carl Sandburg (1962-67), Gwendolyn Brooks (1968-2000), and Kevin Stein (2003-2017).
About Illinois Humanities
Illinois Humanities, the Illinois affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, is a statewide nonprofit organization that activates the humanities through free public programs, grants, and educational opportunities that foster reflection, spark conversation, build community, and strengthen civic engagement. We provide free, high-quality humanities experiences throughout Illinois, particularly for communities of color, individuals living on low incomes, counties and towns in rural areas, small arts and cultural organizations, and communities highly impacted by mass incarceration. Founded in 1974, Illinois Humanities is supported by state, federal, and private funds. Learn more at ilhumanities.org and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn @ILHumanities.
About Illinois Arts Agency Council
The Illinois Arts Council Agency develops the state’s public arts policy, fostering culturally diverse programs, and approving grants expenditures. A small professional staff with in-depth knowledge of the arts develops and administers the agency’s programs, provides technical assistance, and ensures the responsible and impactful distribution of all funds. Learn more at arts.illinois.gov and on Facebook @ILArtsCouncilAgency.