Michael Harper (1989-1994)
C.D. Wright (1994-1999)
Thomas Chandler (1999-2006)
Lisa Starr (2007-2012)
Rick Benjamin (2012 - 2016)
RISCA Fellowship Writers Night 2016 - Image by Olivia Sauerwein
PROVIDENCE, R.I. November 3, 2016 - Governor Gina M. Raimondo today appointed Tina Cane of Rumford as Rhode Island Poet Laureate. Cane replaces Rick Benjamin, who resigned late last year to accept a teaching and administrative position at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
"I am thrilled to have Tina serve as our new State Poet Laureate," said Raimondo. "She is a people's poet. Throughout her career, she has worked tirelessly to make the arts more accessible, bringing poetry and a spirit of creative self-expression to Rhode Island schools. Tina truly embodies the powerful role art will play in Rhode Island's future, and I can't wait to see what she will achieve."
"I want to also thank Rick Benjamin for the incredible contributions he has made to our state," Raimondo continued. "As an accomplished poet, educator, and scholar, Rick successfully united his love of poetry with his passion to serve the people of Rhode Island. His efforts serve as a reminder that citizenship and art go hand-in-hand."
Cane is the founder and director of Writers-in-the-Schools, RI, an educational program that places professional writers in public school classrooms to support students as they explore the writing process. For twenty years, she taught French, English, and creative writing in schools throughout New York City and Rhode Island. Cane's work has been published in several journals, including Cargo, Spinning Jenny, The Literary Review, Barrow Street, Tupelo Quarterly, Two Serious Ladies, and The Good Men Project. Her book-length poem, The Fifth Thought, was published in 2008. Cane also has two forthcoming books: Dear Elena: Letter for Elena Ferrante (with art by Esther Solondz) from Skillman Avenue Press and Once More With Feeling from Veliz Books, out in early 2017. She completed her master's degree in French Literature at the Université de Paris IV-Nanterre.
"It is an honor to be selected as Rhode Island's Poet Laureate," said Cane. "In schools and communities across the state, poetry can be a significant force for public good and personal growth. During my tenure, I hope every Rhode Islander gets a chance to develop a love of literature, to explore self-expression and to understand that poetry, because it is such a flexible form, truly belongs to everyone."
The position of Rhode Island State Poet was established by law in 1989. The State Poet Laureate serves as the principal advocate for poetry in Rhode Island. A Rhode Island State Council on the Arts selection committee reviewed twenty nominees for the position. Rick Benjamin was the fifth Rhode Island State Poet. Previous state poets are Michael Harper (1989-1994), C.D. Wright (1994-1999), Thomas Chandler (1999-2006), Lisa Starr (2007-2012), and Rick Benjamin (2012-2016).
"We're delighted with Governor Raimondo's choice for State Poet," said Randall Rosenbaum, Executive Director of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. "The State Arts Council has had a long and productive relationship with Tina, and has supported her work in the schools for many years. She will be an excellent advocate for poetry and the literary arts in our state."