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Past Leadership

Transformative Executive Director Lee Briccetti

Lee Briccetti was the long-time Executive Director of Poets House. Her leadership of the organization over 32 years built it into one of the premiere literary centers in the United States and one of the great poetry libraries in the world, bringing it from a home economics room in a high school to a magnificent space created just for the art of poetry. Since the early 1990s, Briccetti inculcated a spirit of radical inclusion and diversity, which informed both the collection building and the programming of the organization—welcoming all, and constantly seeking to expand the definition of poetry to include all poetic traditions, through such programs as Oral Traditions and The People’s Poetry Gathering.


In the early 2000s Briccetti oversaw the $11M capital project that led to a permanent home for Poets House—including a program hall, Children’s Room, library, and classrooms—on the banks of the Hudson River, to which the organization moved in 2009. Under Briccetti, in this new home in Lower Manhattan, Poets House produced over 240 programs annually, welcomed thousands of students on free class trips, and created a pluralistic space for dialogue and learning. The organization’s service exponentially expanded in this state-of-the-art LEED-certified green space built just for poetry, with 80,000 people crossing the threshold annually, and millions more experiencing poetry through the organization’s online presence and national programs in partner libraries and cultural institutions.


Briccetti invented the Poets House Showcase, which for over 27 years has gathered each year’s new poetry books in one place. She established Poetry in The Branches, a program that mentored scores of public library systems over 25 years, helping them to become centers for the discovery of poetry in their own communities. And she was part of a cohort of the original organizers of the People’s Poetry Festival, exploring poetry’s roots in oral traditions. She developed the beloved Poetry Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge, which for decades raised essential funds to support the library and activities of Poets House.


Briccetti’s essays have appeared in Blueprints: Bringing Poetry into Communities, ed. Katharine Coles (University of Utah Press); This-World Company: Collected Essays on the Work of Jean Valentine, ed. Kazim Ali and John Hoppenthaler (University of Michigan Press); and the recent Jane Cooper: A Radiance of Attention, ed. Martha Collins and Celia Bland (University of Michigan Press); as well as The Language of Conservation, a compilation of essays on poetry and the environment. Additionally, Poetic Species: A Conversation Between E.O. Wilson and Robert Hass was framed by her introductory essay and published by Bellevue Literary Press.


A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, Briccetti received an MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for Poetry and a poetry fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She has been awarded residencies at MacDowell, The Millay Colony, and the American Academy in Rome. Her most recent volume of poems is Blue Guide (2018), preceded by Day Mark (2005), both published by Four Way Books.