New York, NY (January 25, 2024)—The Academy of American Poets, now celebrating its ninetieth year, presented its Leadership Awards on Wednesday, January 24, to William I. Campbell, Rita Dove, W. W. Norton & Company, Jonathan Plutzik and The Betsy Hotel, at Trinity Wall Street’s Parish Hall in New York City. The award ceremony featured readings by poets Joseph O. Legaspi, Yesenia Montilla, Academy Chancellor Kimiko Hahn, and Honoree Rita Dove.
“As we enter our ninetieth year and look toward the future of our organization, we acknowledge the members of our community who have gone above and beyond for the cause of poetry,” said Ricardo Alberto Maldonado, Academy President and Executive Director. “Their leadership and dedication to nurturing future generations of poets and readers continues to inspire our work, including new programming for high school students and online literary seminars that we will launch this year. We are grateful for our honorees’ commitment to poetry’s enduring cultural relevance.”
“It is doubly momentous to honor American poet extraordinaire Rita Dove alongside her visionary publisher W. W. Norton & Company for their mutual roles in expanding the realm of contemporary American poetry to be even more imaginative, dazzling, and impactful. We are also deeply grateful that philanthropists William I. Campbell and Jonathan Plutzik graciously accepted Leadership Awards for their contributions to supporting American poets at all stages of their careers. These four honorees have advanced the Academy’s mission in magnificent and immeasurable ways,” said Tess O’Dwyer, Board Chair.
The welcome committee included Academy Board members James Johnson, Camille Lannan, Eric Rayman, and Elda Rotor, as well as Chair Emeritus Michael Jacobs. In attendance were nearly 100 guests, including luminaries from the worlds of art and design, entertainment, literature, and philanthropy: Jill Bialosky, Michael A. Boyd, Giannina Braschi, Sara Caples and Everado Jefferson, Ellen C. de Saint Phalle, Ruth Dickey, Deana Haggag, Amy Holmes, Tyehimba Jess, Jason Landon Marcus, Kate Gorney Miller and TJ Miller, Deborah Plutzik-Briggs, John Siciliano, Miguel Trelles, Lisa Willis, and more.
About the Academy of American Poets Leadership Award Recipients
William I. Campbell is a Managing Partner of Sanoch Management, a consulting and investment vehicle for early-stage consumer and financial companies. He has held executive roles in national and global public companies with recognizable names in the financial services and consumer goods sectors. In addition, he served as the Chairman of Visa International and for many years was a senior advisor to the Chairman at JPMorgan Chase. In the early 2000s, Campbell, his wife, and his family created The Campbell Family Foundation; a primary mission of the foundation is to serve actively in the philanthropy sector. In support of that effort, he was a founding member and is now Board Chair Emeritus of the END Fund. Campbell’s other ongoing passions in philanthropy include Board leadership at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), the Byrd Hoffman Water Mill Foundation, and the Marymount School of New York. He previously served on the Academy of American Poets’s Board of Directors.
“The Academy as an institution, with its living archive for poetry at Poets.org, is a huge resource for the public, with more than 4,000 poets’ biographies and over 15,000 poems, allowing anyone to go instantly to the poetry they are looking for,” said William I. Campbell. “Whether you turn to poetry seeking insight, comfort, or a deepened engagement with language, you know just how much it matters that the Academy exists and shares free access to these texts.”
Rita Dove is the author of numerous poetry collections, including Playlist for the Apocalypse (W. W. Norton, 2021); Collected Poems 1974–2004 (W.W. Norton, 2016), recipient of the 2017 NAACP Image Award and a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award; and Sonata Mulattica (W. W. Norton, 2009), winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. She was the editor of The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry (Penguin Books, 2011), served as The New York Times Magazine’s poetry editor from 2018 to 2019, and wrote a weekly column, “Poet’s Choice,” for The Washington Post in 2000 and 2002. Her many honors include the Academy’s 2019 Wallace Stevens Award; the 2011 National Medal of Arts, bestowed upon her by President Barack Obama; the 2009 Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal; the 1996 National Humanities Medal, presented to her by President Bill Clinton; and the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Dove served on the Academy of American Poets’s Board of Chancellors from 2005 to 2010. She is currently the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ vice president for literature and an elected member of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. Dove served as poet laureate of the United States from 1993 to 1995, and as poet laureate of Virginia from 2004 to 2006. She is the Henry Hoyns Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Virginia, where she has taught since 1989.
“I am profoundly grateful that I have been afforded opportunities to support others who love poetry as much as I do—as a teacher of creative writing, as a former U.S. poet laureate, and not least, during my years as an Academy of American Poets Chancellor,” said Rita Dove. “I thank the Academy for this extraordinary honor, because it acknowledges a dimension of my writing and teaching career which, though intertwined with my creative endeavors, goes all the way back to the little girl who grew brave through reading books.”
Independent and employee-owned, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc, has been proud to publish “Books That Live” since 1923, including works by current and former Academy Chancellors Marilyn Chin, Kwame Dawes, Rita Dove, Kimiko Hahn, Joy Harjo, Marie Howe, Dorianne Laux, and many more.
“Norton’s connection to poets and poetry began almost as soon as our company was founded a century ago,” said Julia Reidhead, Chairman and President, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. “Since that time, our engagement with poetry has grown with every decade. We have enjoyed the privilege of publishing outstanding poets of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, many of them American, many of them past or present Chancellors of the Academy, and many of them winners of the Academy’s distinguished poetry prizes. We have witnessed with gratitude the Academy’s tireless leadership in bringing poetry to our culture at large. To receive this Leadership Award from the Academy ourselves, as publishers, is therefore exceedingly sweet and profoundly meaningful.”
Jonathan Plutzik, a retired vice chairman of Credit Suisse, is the principal owner of The Betsy Hotel. His father was the poet Hyam Plutzik (1911–1962), a three-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Plutzik has a long legacy of charitable engagement, including as a founding Board member of Planet Word, a DC-based museum dedicated to Language Arts; as co-President of the Plutzik Goldwasser Family Foundation, providing leadership and financial support for the Plutzik Poetry Series at the University of Rochester, now in its sixty-second year; and through a long-term commitment to Zara’s Center for AIDS Impacted Youth, a respite program for young people in Zimbabwe. Plutzik was lauded at the White House in 2016 as a Champion for Change for immigration advocacy. He is a former Board Chair of Fannie Mae and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
The Betsy is a luxury beachfront resort in Miami Beach and one of the preeminent arts and culture hotels in the world, with libraries in every room and an artist residency program inspired by the life and poetic legacy of Hyam Plutzik. Public art includes The Betsy Poetry Rail, a unique celebration of twelve writers that shaped Miami culture; #thebetsyorb, a design element that connects the hotel’s two historic wings upon which art is often projected; and a literary art elevator featuring work by Max-Steven Grossman. The Betsy was the host hotel for the first ten years of the O, Miami Poetry Festival and is the current residency/reading home of Supporting Women Writers in Miami, FIU Writers on the Bay, and FIU’s Exile Writers program. The Betsy’s Writers Room, dedicated at its opening by U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins, has welcomed more than 1,000 writers-in-residence. The Betsy Hotel has partnered with the Academy of American Poets since 2015 to provide an annual, weeklong residency in its Writers Room to the winner of the James Laughlin Award.
“I am deeply honored to accept this Academy of American Poets Leadership Award on behalf of my family,” said Jonathan Plutzik. “We’re proud that The Betsy has become world-recognized as a place for poetry through our residency and readings programs, and through the creation of public art to celebrate poets who shaped Miami culture, including Muhammed Ali, Richard Blanco, Langston Hughes, Donald Justice, Gerald Stern, and Julie Marie Wade. At The Betsy, we’ve seen the capacity of poetry to build bridges between people from many walks of life, believing as my father wrote that ‘poetry is the great connector.’ We’re looking forward to many more years of creative partnership with our Miami community and with the Academy: to support American poets and to foster an appreciation of contemporary poetry—something the world needs, now more than ever.”
About the Academy of American Poets
Celebrating its ninetieth anniversary in 2024, the Academy of American Poets is a leading publisher of contemporary poetry across the country. The organization annually awards $1.3+ million to more than two hundred poets at various stages of their careers through its prize program. It also produces Poets.org, the world’s largest publicly funded website for poets and poetry; established and organizes National Poetry Month each April; publishes the Poem-a-Day series and American Poets magazine; provides free resources to educators; hosts an annual series of poetry readings and special events; and coordinates a national Poetry Coalition that promotes the value poets bring to our culture. To learn more about the Academy of American Poets, including its staff, its Board of Directors, and its Board of Chancellors, visit: https://poets.org.