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Robert Kelly Named Dutchess County's First Poet Laureate

Robert Kelly
Robert Kelly Photo Credit: Wikipedia/Charlotte Mandell

POUGHKEEPSIE, N. Y. -- As Dutchess County's first poet laureate, Bard College professor and Annandale poet Robert Kelly plans to read two poems at Wednesday's State of the County Address in Poughkeepsie.

In announcing Kelly's appointment, County Executive Marc Molinaro said it was a reflection on how important the arts are to Dutchess County, as well as Kelly's efforts to promote arts education.

"I look forward to Robert’s contributions to our arts scene, and I encourage all residents to explore how the arts make us all distinctly Dutchess,” Molinaro said.

One of the poems Kelly plans to read Wednesday is a piece he dedicated to Molinaro in honor of the county executive's 2016 initiative "Act Boldly."

The State of the County Address is planned for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27, at the the Bardavon 1869 Opera House Poughkeepsie. It is open to the public but seating is limited. Register here.

In his unpaid one-year role as poet laureate, Kelly plans to bring poetry to the public through a series of public events and readings, officials said. Kelly, a professor at Bard College since 1961, said his appointment recognizes all of the many poets in Dutchess County.

“In honoring me, Dutchess County is honoring the hundreds of poets who live here — some connected to two of America’s greatest liberal arts colleges, Vassar and Bard, and many more independent or with other allegiances," Kelly said.

Kelly has published more than 50 books of poetry and prose, including "Kill the Messenger Who Brings Bad News" (1980), which received the Los Angeles Times inaugural Annual Book Award. 

He serves as Asher B. Edelman professor of literature and co-director of the program in written arts at Bard College. He is married to the translator Charlotte Mandell.

Arts Mid-Hudson handled the selection process, inviting a panel of literary professionals and community members to make a selection from 39 nominations. Public nominations will begin again this summer for the 2017 Dutchess County poet laureate. 

"Our arts community not only reflects Dutchess County’s diverse populations, but it also contributes to our thriving tourism industry, which now brings in some $500 million a year into our county," Molinaro said.

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