Poetry Center’s Patrick Donnelly Named Poet Laureate of Northampton

Katherine Hazen '18

News Editor

In March, Patrick Donnelly, a poet, translator, editor and teacher at Smith College’s Poetry Center, was appointed to the role of Poet Laureate of Northampton by the Northampton Arts Council. Donnelly’s two-year term as the seventh Poet Laureate of Northampton begins this month with an inaugural reading in the fall.

After reading the poetry of several candidates, the selection committee of the Northampton Arts Council chose a poet who dedicates much of his time to educating young people in public speaking, performance skills and poetry.  Donnelly already has projects and specific goals in the works for his term, such as free workshops for the public, a Choral Poem Project—which people of all poetic backgrounds can read poems together, and a reading to benefit A Positive Place, a Northampton AIDS-service organization.

“The way I see it, a poet laureate should shine light on other poets and on poetry resources in the community and help connect poets with audiences. Each of Northampton’s six past laureates has done this in their own way. I’m planning a number of projects that relate to my own particular interests as a poet, and I hope people will also feel free to invite me to participate wherever I can be of help,” Donnelly said, “I feel honored and excited to help celebrate the wonderful poetry community in Northampton.”    

On behalf of the Poetry Center, Director Ellen Doré Watson said, “[Donnelly] does everything he does with heart and flair and precision.  I’m sure he’ll put great and creative energy to highlighting poetry as he has in the classroom at Smith.”

Donnelly’s teaching career has brought him to many college campuses, such as Colby College and Lesley University’s MFA Program.  “We’re very lucky at Smith College to have the incredible resources of the Poetry Center.  Smith and Northampton are great places to connect with poetry,” Donnelly said.  In addition to writing his own poetry, which has been featured in publications such as The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Massachusetts Review and The Yale Review, Donnelly translates classical Japanese poetry and drama with his spouse Stephen D. Miller, Asian languages and literature professor at UMass Amherst.

Donnelly is currently working “steadily” toward his third book of poems, and he and Miller continue their work in translation with two different projects on Japanese poetry.  “Life is short” Donnelly said, “we must make more literature!”