The Poetry Society of America, the oldest poetry organization in the country, was founded in New York City in 1910 by a prominent group of individuals—poets, professors, editors, and passionate readers of poetry who were distinguished in other fields.
Over time, the PSA welcomed—among hundreds and hundreds of guests at their gatherings—the many outstanding poets mentioned in the historical timeline below. They also established important awards for poets at all stages of their careers, and there was from the earliest days a particular emphasis on welcoming the new.
Today we present fifty to sixty programs annually, an award-winning Chapbook Fellowship Program, and our signature national program, Poetry in Motion®, which has reached tens of millions in its seventeen-year history. All this work serves to build a larger audience for poetry, to encourage a deeper appreciation of the art, and to place poetry at the crossroads of American life.
Our first hundred years has provided us with a tremendous foundation for the future. Join us as we fare forward, to champion poetry for another century.
100 Years of Supporting Poetry
Publishers Weekly reports on our Centennial (2010)
The Approval Matrix
The PSA makes New York Magazines List! (2010)
100 Years of American Poetry
Feature listing in Flavorpill (2010)
On the Horizon
The PSA Makes the New Yorker's list with an illustration (2010).
Celebration of Midwestern Poetry
The Star Tribune notes the upcoming Centennial reading "Poets of the American Midwest, 1910-2010" (2010)
Poetry Society Celebrates Centennial
Poets & Writers article on the 100th anniversary of the PSA
Poets and Lyres
The New Yorker Online reports on The Poetry Society's Centennial event "The Figure of Orpheus in Poetry and Performance, 1919-2010" at Lincoln Center. (2010)
Poems in Pictures
From the Stuyvesant school newspaper, a review of Portraits of Poets (1910-2010). (2010)
Jill Krementz Photo Journal - Portraits of Poets 1910-2010
Famed photographer Jill Krementz's extensive profile of the PSA's exhibition Portraits of Poets 1910-2010. (2010)
New York Times article on Portraits of Poets 1910-2010
Holland Cotter's preview of the show in Weekend Arts (2010)
October 10, 1910: First formal meeting of the Poetry Society of America held in New York at the National Arts Club. Forty of the country's leading poets and writers enroll as charter members.
1911: Ezra Pound attends a meeting on the eve of his journey to England.
1913: W.B. Yeats appears before the Society meeting and chants "The Dream of Wandering Aengus" to an enthralled audience.
March, 1915: Amy Lowell expounds her ideas on imagism before the Society.
1918: Board President Edward J. Wheeler finds a New York City patron of art who donates $500 to establish the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.
1922: Edwin Arlington Robinson wins the PSA $500 Annual Book Award for his Collected Poems.
1925: Countee Cullen is the recipient of the Witter Bynner Undergraduate Award. Langston Hughes wins the following year.
1929: The PSA Shelley Memorial Award is established. The first winner is Conrad Aiken.
1938: Padraic Colum is elected President of the Board of Governors.
1940: Robert Frost is announced as the Honorary President of the Society. Marianne Moore wins the Shelley Memorial Award.
1943: The Gold Medal is awarded to Edna St. Vincent Millay.
1944: E. E. Cummings is the recipient of the Shelley Memorial Award.
1951: Wallace Stevens receives the Gold Medal.
1952: Elizabeth Bishop wins the Shelley Memorial Award.
1957: Richard Wilbur is the recipient of the PSA Millay Award. Randall Jarrell appears before the Society at the annual dinner.
1961: Theodore Roethke wins the Shelley Memorial Award.
1968: Jean Garrigue wins the PSA Melville Cane award for her New and Selected Poems.
1975: Gwendolyn Brooks wins the Shelley Memorial Award.
1985: William Matthews is elected President of the Board of Governors. Robert Pinsky is the recipient of the William Carlos Williams Award.
1992: Molly Peacock, Board President, and Elise Paschen, Executive Director, inspired by the London program, Poems on the Underground, establish a similar program in New York City, Poetry in Motion®.
1999: Hettie Jones wins the Norma Farber First Book Award.
2001: William Louis-Dreyfus is elected President of the Board of Governors. Alice Quinn is appointed Executive Director. Sonia Sanchez is awarded the Frost Medal.
November, 2001: "In a Time of Crisis," a reading of poems at Cooper Union following the September 11th attacks, draws an audience of 900 and is featured in The New York Times.
2002: The PSA Chapbook Fellowship Program is established. To date, 24 chapbooks have been published in this award-winning program.
2003: The biennial PSA Festival of New American Poets is established. Lawrence Ferlinghetti is the Frost Medalist.
2005: The PSA's 95th anniversary dinner at the Pierre Hotel features the living U. S. Poets Laureate.
2007: Ruth Kaplan is elected President of the Board of Governors.
2008: Michael S. Harper receives the Frost Medal.
2010: Lucille Clifton is chosen as the PSA's Centennial Frost Medalist.