Cuomo Appoints Edmund White 11th State Author; Yusef Komunyakaa 11th State Poet
Cuomo Names Joseph Tusiani New York State Poet Laureate Emeritus in Recognition of Contributions to International Literary Community
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the appointment of New York’s 11th State Author, Edmund White, and 11th State Poet, Yusef Komunyakaa. In celebration of Italian-American poet Joseph Tusiani's lifelong dedication to the arts, Cuomo has also named him New York State Poet Laureate Emeritus.
Governor Cuomo said, “These talented, inspiring writers have each made remarkable contributions to the literary community in New York. Their work is a tremendous asset to us all and has served as a touchstone for many around the world. I look forward to their literature being shared and enjoyed for generations to come.”
Edmund White said, "I’ve lived most of my life in New York and have written about it extensively. It’s astonishing to be recognized by my home and my subject.”
Yusef Komunyakaa said, "I am honored to serve as New York State poet. I embrace this historical support of artists and I shall endeavor to cultivate this atmosphere where poetry and the lives of working people intersect.”
Joseph Tusiani, Professor Emeritus at Herbert H. Lehman College, City University of New York, said, “I humbly accept this great honor which I consider a public recognition of my lifelong love for poetry, and all that poetry represents in a world beset by mundane cares and alienating forces. I am most grateful.”
About Edmund White – New York’s 11th State Author
Edmund White has authored more than two dozen works of fiction, memoir, and criticism, including the classic novel A Boy’s Own Story (1982), which the New York Times called a cross between J.D. Salinger and Oscar Wilde. He also wrote Genet: A Biography (1994), for which he received the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Lambda Literary Award. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Award for Literature from the National Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1993, he was made Chevalier, and later Officier, de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government.
In addition to being a member of the Violet Quill, an influential literary circle of post-Stonewall New York writers, White was a co-founder of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), the world’s first provider of HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and advocacy, established in New York City in January 1982. White was also the inaugural recipient of the Bill Whitehead Award in 1989, honoring lifetime achievement by writers within the LGBT community.
As a fiction writer, White is perhaps best known for his trilogy of autobiographical novels: A Boy’s Own Story (1982), The Beautiful Room Is Empty (1988), and The Farewell Symphony (1997). He is also the author of works including The Married Man (2000), Hotel de Dream: A New York Novel (2007), and Jack Holmes and His Friend (2013).
White is equally accomplished as a biographer and cultural critic. In addition to his award-winning biography of Jean Genet, he is the author of Marcel Proust: A Life (1999) and Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel (2008). He has published several works of memoir, including My Lives: An Autobiography (2005) and City Boy: My Life in New York During the 1960s and 70s (2009). His latest novel, Our Young Man, is forthcoming from Bloomsbury in April 2016. A member of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, White lives in New York City and has been a Professor of Creative Writing at Princeton University since 1998.
About Yusef Komunyakaa – New York’s 11th State Poet
Yusef Komunyakaa is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, including Dien Cai Dau (1988), which won The Dark Room Poetry Prize, Thieves of Paradise (1998), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems (1993), for which he received both the Pulitzer Prize and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. He received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for “extraordinary lifetime accomplishments” from the Poetry Foundation in 2001, and the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets in 2011. Komunyakaa has taught at many universities, including the University of New Orleans, Indiana University, and Princeton University.
Born and raised in Bogalusa, Louisiana, Komunyakaa served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and earned a Bronze Star for his work as editor and correspondent for the military newspaper Southern Cross. He received a B.A. from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs in 1975, an M.A. from Colorado State University in 1978, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of California, Irvine in 1980.
His first book of poems, Dedications & Other Darkhorses, was published in 1977, followed by Lost in the Bonewheel Factory in 1979. In 1993, Komunyakaa published Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems, which included twelve new poems in addition to poems from Dien Cai Dau, Copacetic, and I Apologize for the Eyes in My Head.
Since then, he has published several books of poems, including Thieves of Paradise (1998) and Talking Dirty to the Gods (2000), both of which were finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His 2011 collection, The Chameleon Couch, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and was shortlisted for the 2012 International Griffin Poetry Prize. It was named a Best Poetry Book of 2011 by the Boston Globe.
Komunyakaa is a distinguished faculty member and Honorary Director of Cave Canem, a foundation, headquartered in Brooklyn that is committed to cultivating the artistic and professional growth of African American poets. His many honors include the William Faulkner Prize from the Université de Rennes, the Thomas Forcade Award, the Hanes Poetry Prize, and fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Louisiana Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 1999 and was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2009. His latest collection of poetry, The Emperor of Water Clocks, was published in October 2015. Komunyakaa lives in New York City and is the Distinguished Senior Poet in the Creative Writing Program at New York University.
About Joseph Tusiani – Poet Laureate Emeritus
Joseph Tusiani is an acclaimed poet and writer in four languages. Born in San Marco in Lamis (Foggia) in 1924, he earned a doctorate from the University of Naples in 1947 with a thesis on William Wordsworth. Later that year, he emigrated from Italy to the United States where he began his career as a successful academic.
Tusiani has written numerous collections of poetry. His Latin works include Melos Cordis (1955), Rosa Rosarum (1984), In Exilio Rerum (1985), and In Nobis Caelum (2007 ); Lo Speco Celeste (1956), Odi Sacre (1957) and Il Ritorno (1992) in Italian; and, Rind and All (1962), the Fifth Season (1964) and Gente Mia and Other Poems (1978) in English. A new volume of verse, A Clarion Call, is scheduled for publication in 2016.
On the international stage, Tusiani is well known for his translations that include The Complete Poems of Michelangelo (1960), Jerusalem Delivered (1970), The Creation of the World (1982), Morgante (1998) and others. Tusiani has also written a novel, Envoy from Heaven (1965), and authored a three-volume autobiography, La Parola Difficile (1988), La Parola Nuova (1991) and La Parola Antica (1992).
Tusiani began his teaching career at the College of Mount Saint Vincent and later joined Lehman College of the City University of New York.
Tusiani is widely recognized for his Italian, English, Latin and Apulian poetry and has received numerous awards and accolades. In 1954, he was the first American to receive the Greenwood Prize of the Poetry Society of England. In 1986, The American Association of Teachers of Italian nominated him as the first recipient of the AATI Distinguished Service Award. In 2007, he was presented with the Keys to the City of Florence for his contributions to the English-speaking world’s knowledge of Florentine poets from Dante and Boccaccio to Petrarch and Machiavelli.
The Poet Laureate Emeritus is a separate and distinct honor bestowed on Tusiani by New York State in recognition of his achievements in American and Italian literature.
Joseph Tusiani is 92-years-old and lives in New York City.
Angelo Vivolo, President of the Columbus Citizens Foundation, said, “It is a great honor for the Columbus Citizens Foundation and for the entire Italian-American community that Governor Cuomo and the State of New York recognize the unique distinction of Professor Joseph Tusiani, internationally known as the greatest living modern Latin poet, writer in four languages, translator, scholar and teacher, by bestowing upon him the title of ‘New York State Poet Laureate Emeritus.’”
About the New York State Poet and Author
The State Poet and Author are selected for two-year terms by the NYS Writers Institute, located at the University at Albany, SUNY. The choice for State Author and Poet is based on a substantial body of work of notable literary merit.
William Kennedy, Executive Director of the New York State Writers Institute, and ex-officio chair of the review committee for the Edith Wharton Award for State Author of the State of New York, said, “Edmund White is a gifted writer whose body of work exists on a high literary plane. He has written in several genres – journalism, the essay, criticism, biography, and especially fiction, almost totally focused on gay consciousness and culture. The scope of his work, his insights into the era in which he lived and into his own life, his candor and courage, his keen intelligence, and the marvelous wit of his language, have made him an eminent and inspirational figure in American literature.”
Donald Faulkner, Director of the New York State Writers Institute, and ex-officio chair of the review committee for the Walt Whitman Award for State Poet of New York, said, “Seldom, if ever, have I found an American poet with such an amazing trajectory of talent and sense of subject regarding culture and morality: from Viet Nam to jazz, from Black experience to surreal lyricism. Yusef Komunyakaa is surely among our very best.”
The NYS Writers Institute of the State University of New York, located at the University at Albany, was established as a permanent state-sponsored organization through legislation signed into law in 1984. The Writers Institute provides a milieu for writers, both renowned and aspiring, from all over the world to come together for the purpose of instruction and creative exchange.
In 1985, Governor Mario M. Cuomo and State Legislature empowered the Institute to award the Edith Wharton Citation of Merit for Fiction Writers (State Author) and the Walt Whitman Citation of Merit for Poets (State Poet) to authors whose career achievements make them deserving of New York State’s highest literary honors.
Upon the recommendation of two advisory panels of distinguished writers convened under the aegis of the Institute, the governor awards the citations every two years to one fiction writer and one poet of distinction. Throughout their two-year terms the State laureates promote and encourage fiction writing and poetry throughout New York by giving public readings and talks within the state. The award carries an honorarium of ten thousand dollars.
NYS Authors and their terms of service are listed below.
· Alison Lurie, 2012-2014
· Mary Gordon, 2008-2010
· Russell Banks, 2004-2008
· Kurt Vonnegut, 2001-2003
· James Salter, 1998-2000
· Peter Matthiessen, 1995-1997
· William Gaddis, 1993-1995
· Norman Mailer, 1991-1993
· E. L. Doctorow, 1989-1991
· Grace Paley, 1986-1988
NYS Poets and their terms of service are listed below.
· Marie Howe, 2012-2014
· Jean Valentine, 2008-2010
· Billy Collins, 2004-2006
· John Ashbery, 2001-2003
· Sharon Olds, 1998-2000
· Jane Cooper, 1995-1997
· Richard Howard, 1993-1995
· Audre Lorde, 1991-1993
· Robert Creeley, 1989-1991
· Stanley Kunitz, 1986-1988
For more information on the NYS Poet and Author, and the NYS Writers Institute, please visit: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/
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