Jennifer Militello named N.H. Poet Laureate

CONCORD, N.H., March 22, 2024 – New Hampshire’s Executive Council has confirmed Governor Chris Sununu’s nomination of Jennifer Militello of Goffstown, N.H., as the next New Hampshire Poet Laureate. 

Pic by Peter Biello

Militello will serve a five-year term beginning April 2024. The state’s Poet Laureate serves as an ambassador for all poets in New Hampshire and works to heighten the visibility and value of poetry in the state. 

The New Hampshire Poet Laureate position includes an honorarium of $1000 for each year of the five-year term to help the next Poet Laureate achieve his/her/their stated mission. Funding comes from contributions made to the Walter Butts’ New Hampshire Poet Laureate Fund, created in memory of the recent New Hampshire Poet Laureate, and coordinated through the Poetry Society of New Hampshire, which also contributes to the honorarium. 

Militello is an acclaimed and award-winning poet, author, and teacher, celebrated across the United States and in the United Kingdom. Militello has supported poetry in New Hampshire throughout her life, including as a founding director of the New Hampshire Poetry Festival and Director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at New England College. She is the author of five books of poetry and the memoir Knock Wood (Dzanc Books, 2019), winner of the Dzanc Nonfiction Prize. Her third book of poetry, Body Thesaurus (Tupelo Press, 2013) was named one of the top books of 2013 by Best American Poetry and was the runner-up for the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award. Her fourth book of poetry, A Camouflage of Specimens and Garments (Tupelo Press, 2016) was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award and the Sheila Margaret Motion Prize. Militello’s poems have appeared in numerous publications, including American Poetry Review, POETRY, The Poetry Review, and Tin House, as well as in Best American Poetry, Best New Poets. She has been awarded the Barbara Bradley Award, and the Yeats Poetry Prize, among others, and has had various grants and fellowships from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, Writers at Work, and others.

“New Hampshire boasts one of the richest poetry traditions in the nation, and it will be my deepest honor to celebrate and nurture that statewide love of poetry as New Hampshire’s next Poet Laureate,” said Militello. “A poem helps us consider our most complex emotions and define what it means to be human. I encourage my Granite State neighbors to reach out to me as, together, we unearth what poetry offers those of us living in this magnificent state.”

Nominations were received from across the state and reviewed by a committee comprised of representatives from the Poetry Society of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Writers’ Project, community poet laureate programs, and other select members from the New Hampshire literary community. 

“Jennifer’s passion for poetry is evident in all she has accomplished in both writing and teaching.  Her vision for tapping into the revived energy and enthusiasm for gathering and writing, supporting writing in the K-12 grades, and building a network for youth and the underrepresented, will continue to make poetry accessible, inclusive, and relevant.  We are excited for the opportunities we know Jennifer will bring to the poetry community across New Hampshire and in the surrounding communities,” said Melanie Chicoine, president of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire, the organization charged with submitting a recommendation to the Governor.

Established by the state legislature in 1967, New Hampshire’s Poet Laureate is an honorary five-year position held by an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field of poetry. The impressive list of former New Hampshire Poets Laureate includes Alexandria Peary, Alice Fogel, Walter Butts, Patricia Fargnoli, Marie Harris, Donald Hall, Cynthia Huntington, Jane Kenyon, and Maxine Kumin. 

For more information about the New Hampshire Poet Laureate, visit the NH Poet Laureate page at psnh.org or the Art and Artists page at the NH State Council on the Arts website.