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Governor McKee Names Colin Channer as Next Rhode Island Poet Laureate

PROVIDENCE, RI – Today, Governor Dan McKee named Colin Channer as Rhode Island's 7th Poet Laureate.

"Colin Channer is an accomplished writer whose talent and work have touched the lives of so many people," said Governor McKee. "I'm excited to see him continue his craft here in the Ocean State where he will not just be a leader in poetry but serve as a poetry and literary inspiration to Rhode Islanders across our state."

"We are thrilled with Governor McKee's choice of such an accomplished, distinguished, and nationally recognized poet. We are looking forward to following him as he builds appreciation and participation in poetry and literary activities throughout the state," said Lynne McCormack, Executive Director for the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.

Channer is an internationally recognized poet, fiction writer, and editor. His most recent book is the poetry collection Console (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux) which was named a New Yorker Magazine Best Book of 2023 in addition to being a finalist for the New England Book Award.

Channer has earned significant recognition throughout his distinguished career. Recent honors include a 2023 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award for creative excellence and generosity to the broader literary community, a 2023 Richard B. Salomon Faculty Research Award from Brown University which recognizes excellence in scholarship, and a 2022 Fellowship from the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library.

Previous honors include Fellowships in Fiction and Poetry from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) in 2015 and 2014.

"To be named State Poet is a gushy surprise and leveling honor. Poetry is many things, including a reachable, teachable way to strengthen empathy and stretch toward transcendence. It's also just a bunch of fun," said Channer. "I was born lucky, as my mother Phyllis, a retired pharmacist, just loves to say. This shocking honor proves her point. And hey, she's always right!"

Channer is an Associate Professor & the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Literary Arts at Brown University. He is also co-founder of Jamaica's globally famous Calabash International Literary Festival. Channer, who was born and raised in Jamaica, served the organization as artistic director and board chairman from 2001-2012. The three-day festival offers three days and nights of readings by a global constellation of authors at no charge, and has been featured in The New York Times, Vogue, and Condé Nast Traveler.

Channer takes the role under a five-year appointment by Governor McKee. The position was created by the Rhode Island General Assembly in 1987.

Previous Rhode Island state poets are Michael Harper (1988-1994), the late C.D. Wright (1994-1999), Thomas Chandler (1999-2006), Lisa Starr (2007-2012), Rick Benjamin (2013-2015), and Tina Cane (2016-2023).

Related links

  • Department or agency: Rhode Island State Council on the Arts
  • Online: http://www.arts.ri.gov/
  • Release date: 03-05-2024

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