Selected each year by the Librarian of Congress in consultation with the current Laureate, past appointees, and poetry critics, the Poet Laureate gives an annual lecture and poetry reading, introduces other poets in the Library’s annual poetry series, and tries in various ways to raise Americans’ awareness and appreciation of poetry. Although the Poet Laureate has few official duties, five are singled out on the Library of Congress website as having put their own stamp on the position, and four of these are Guggenheim alumni: Joseph Brodsky, Gwendolyn Brooks, Rita Dove, and Robert Haas.

*The official title of this position was originally Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress; in 1985 it was changed to Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.