A Letter from Cornelius Eady, Poets House Interim Director
Yes—the rumors are true! I am thrilled and honored to let you know that I have accepted an invitation to become the Interim Director of Poets House. This fall, we’ve been busy preparing to kick off a listening campaign, hold a national search for a full-time Executive Director, and implement a sustainable DEIA training program for the board and future staff. I thank the board for their trust with such a rare gem, as well as Poets House’s brilliant out-going Executive Director, Lee Briccetti, who took the vision of founders Stanley Kunitz and Elizabeth Kray––among so many others––and raised a space where all poetry is welcomed to co-exist and breathe. I’m also deeply grateful to Managing Director Jane Preston, who has agreed to stay on into the new year in order to ensure that the everyday duties of the organization continue uninterrupted through this transition.
In August, Poets House suffered a devastating flood which caused extensive damage to the building, but which left the collection miraculously unharmed. As physical repairs get underway, we look to the other structures by which Poets House functions, with an eye toward increased digitization of the collection, sustainable programming in service to our community, and a revitalized understanding of Poets House’s mission as it pertains to training, staffing, and leadership needs. I hope to be a worthy custodian of the organization as we begin to imagine its newest chapter.
My tenure at Poets House will be intentionally brief; this is not a position I sought out, but it is a project I’m proud to take part in. I will continue to work for Cave Canem, and I have also joined the MFA faculty at the University of Tennessee/Knoxville as their John C. Hodges Chair. I have been a deep believer in the mission of Poets House from its earliest days as a few shelves of books in a high school in Chelsea. Like many beloved literary institutions, Poets House has weathered its share of difficulties in navigating the onset of the pandemic and the rapidly shifting realities spanning the nonprofit and literary worlds. I’m excited to contribute to Poets House as we work to honor and retain the elements that have made Poets House an exceptional arts organization, while listening with an open ear and responding with an open hand to the needs and concerns of the poetry community. It is a challenge we accept, and to which we happily rise.
We’ll be providing regular updates about the ongoing repairs, as well as further information on our listening campaign, via the Poets House website. I hope you’ll follow along, and perhaps venture suggestions and ideas of your own, as we attend to this difficult and joyful work.
Interim Director, Poets House