The Chicago-based Poetry Foundation has named an interim president and a new board chairman.
Henry Bienen, acting president, served as president of Northwestern University for fifteen years from 1995 to 2009. "I started out in undergraduate school at Cornell University thinking poetry might be a vocation of sorts for me," Bienen says. "The great poet W.D. Snodgrass disabused me of that idea." Before coming to Northwestern, Bienen taught at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.
Asked to explain the Poetry Foundation's mandate -- to serve "poetry rather than poets" -- Kiphart says, "By building the largest possible audience for poetry, we believe that we are serving all poets." The first item on his agenda moving forward is "a national search for a new president." A Vietnam veteran, who served as an officer aboard a US Navy minesweeper, Kiphart responded warmly to the suggestion that the Poetry Foundation should support an effort to distribute books of poetry to US servicemen, as was done during WWII: "What an interesting idea! Happily, through our digital programs, we offer more than 13,000 poems for free, as well as every issue of the magazine, podcasts and lots of other content. This is another point of pride for the Foundation’s great work in building an amazing poetry archive."