POUGHKEEPSIE – Dutchess County Executive William F.X. O’Neil announced he has appointed Poughkeepsie resident Stephanie JT Russell as the County’s 2023 Poet Laureate, bringing poetry to residents of all ages throughout the county.
County Executive O’Neil said, “Dutchess County’s arts community enriches the lives of our residents, helps students find their creative voices, and contributes to our thriving tourism industry. My appointment of Stephanie Russell as the next Poet Laureate is an extension of our continued support of the arts and those in our community who help promote artists from all walks of life. We are proud that this program has brought poetry to our residents and young people for nearly a decade and I look forward to Stephanie’s contributions.”
Russell, a multiracial native New Yorker, comes from working-class inner-city roots. Russell says she stays grounded in poetry that underscores our essential common humanity and offers a lifeline to empathy.
“Connecting people has always informed and driven my artistic life,” Russell said. “As Dutchess County Poet Laureate, I will bring poets and multidisciplinary artists together in collaborative exhibits, performances, and workshops, to broaden audiences and build new connections across the disciplines. Multi- and cross-cultural intersection is a fundamental piece of this vision, to cast light on the growing diversity of our rich regional fabric—the foundation for nurturing poetry’s presence in Dutchess County and our region.”
Stephanie JT Russell is a prolific interdisciplinary artist, author, and cultural worker. Her most recent creative nonfiction book, One Flash of Lightning, is a poetic treatment of the classical Samurai code (Andrews McMeel). Russell’s work has been featured in books and journals such as Oakland Out Loud, Words Upon the Water, The Xavier Review, The Winter Anthology, Sequestrum, Lightwood, ArLiJo, and at major venues including The New Museum, The Griffin Museum of Photography, The Albright Knox, Bowery Poetry Club, and The Berkeley Museum. A visiting artist at New York University, The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding, The Stone House, and other institutions, Russell received the Overall Winner Award from the 2022 Wirral Poetry Festival in the UK. She is a Trustee at The Emile Brunel Sculpture Garden & Park, an historic nature sanctuary and art center in Boiceville, NY.
The Dutchess County Poet Laureate program was instituted in 2016 by former County Executive Marc Molinaro, and is an unpaid, one-year role. Arts Mid-Hudson manages the process of the public call for nominations, inviting a panel of literary professionals and community members to select from the nominations, and promoting the appointment.
“Arts Mid-Hudson is delighted to welcome Stephanie Russell as our 2023 Dutchess County Poet Laureate. We are incredibly thankful to County Executive William F.X. O’Neil for his support of this appointment” said Melissa Dvozenja-Thomas, Interim Executive Director for Arts Mid-Hudson. “Poetry encourages us to connect and find meaning in our experiences. We look forward to working with Stephanie this year as she inspires collaborations with this powerful art form.”
Information about the Dutchess County Poet Laureate and the upcoming programs can be found at, www.artsmidhudson.org/dc-poetlaureate