Academy of American Poets Elects Khaled Mattawa to Board of Chancellors

Khaled Mattawa has been elected — along with Arizona poet laureate Alberto Ríos  — to the Academy of American Poets’ 15-member board:

Mattaw at the Tripoli International Poetry Festival.
Mattawa at the Tripoli International Poetry Festival.

The announcement was made on Wednesday. Both Mattawa and Ríos will serve six-year terms on the academy’s board and, according to a news release from the academy, “As members of the Board of Chancellors, Mattawa and Ríos will consult with the organization on matters of artistic programming, serve as judges for the organization’s largest prizes for poets, and act as ambassadors of poetry in the world at large.

Mattawa — who was born in Benghazi, Libya and emigrated to the US in his teens — is a poet, a translator, and an artist-activist who has worked to foster cultural events in Libya in the last two years. He has authored several collections of poetry, including his latest, Tocqueville (2010), and has translated many volumes of contemporary Arabic poetry, including his multi-award-winning collection Adonis: Selected Poems. As an artist-activist, he helped organize an international poetry festival in Tripoli, among other events.

This is hardly Mattawa’s first laurel: He is the recipient of the 2010 Academy of American Poets Fellowship, a Guggenheim fellowship, a translation grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Alfred Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, the PEN American Center Poetry Translation Prize, and a Banipal Translation Prize, among other prizes. He currently teaches in the graduate creative writing program at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Academy Chancellor Marilyn Hacker called Mattawa “one of the best, most inventive, lyrical and intellectually challenging American poets of his generation. His work is as daring in its amalgam of poetic techniques as it is dazzling in the breadth of its subject matter.”

Previous chancellors have included some of the most distinguished poets in the U.S.: Marianne Moore, W. H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, Lucille Clifton, Adrienne Rich, Yusef Komunyakaa, and John Ashbery.

From Khaled Mattawa:

Mattawa’s poems on Web del Sol

Mattawa’s work on Poets.Org

Conversation with Mattawa on PBS NewsHour’s Art Beat

Interview and “The Old House with Thee” on Blackbird

Mattawa’s translations on WWB

“Ecclesiastes,” from Mattawa’s most recent collection, Tocqueville,  reviewed here by Hilary Plum on KROand here by “aka Joe” on his blog.

The whole opening to Tocqueville

Now That We Have Tasted Hope

“After 42 Years”