United States Congress officially adopted the position of Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry in 1985.
From 1938 to 1986, the United States had "Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress," and from 1986 forward the position was re-named the now more familiar “Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry," or Poet Laureate. The honored poet must present one major work of poetry and read poems at national ceremonies.
According to the Library of Congress, the Poet Laureate serves as “nation's official lightning rod for the poetic impulse of Americans. During his or her term, the Poet Laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry.” Past Consultants in Poetry or Poets Laureate have included Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Robert Hayden, Gwendolyn Brooks, Rita Dove, and Billy Collins.
Robert Pinsky, the 39th Poet Laureate of the United States (1997-2000), began the The Favorite Poem Project in which Americans of all ages named their favorite poem. After listening to a few poems nominated and shared as part of that project (scroll down the page to the heading “The First Events” for the media files), invite students to read or re-visit poems and collections of poetry in your classroom library to select a favorite poem they wish to share.
Use or modify the guidelines from the Favorite Poem Community Forum to host a celebration in your own school or classroom.
This site provides descriptions of and links to the projects of past Poet Laureates, including Billy Collins’ Poetry 180.
From the Library of Congress Digital Reference Section, this page offers information on poet laureate's life and work, as well as to external Web sites that feature biographical information, interviews, poems, audio, video, and other materials that highlight the activities of each poet.
Awarded by the Poetry Foundation for a two-year tenure, the children’s poet laureate aims to raise awareness that children have a natural receptivity to poetry and are its most appreciative audience, especially when poems are written specifically for them.
This website provides teachers with a variety of poetry resources, including a searchable database of poets and poems, curriculum units, teacher workshops, and more.