The Poetry Foundation's Under-the-Radar Gifts

The Poetry Foundation is by far one of the largest supporters of the art that gives it its name, but in addition to the marquee awards and prizes like the coveted Ruth Lily Poetry Prize, the Ruth Lily Poetry Fellowships, and the Emily Dickinson and Mark Twain Awards, there are a number of other, under-the-radar gifts the organization gives that you may not have known about (See Poetry Foundation: Grants for Creative Writing).

In the past few years the Poetry Foundation has distributed somewhere in the neighborhood of three quarters of a million dollars a year on average. A large chunk of this is due to the aforementioned Ruth Lily Poetry Prize and Fellowships at $100,000 and $75,000 respectively. The Poetry Foundation is also a regular underwriter of the PBS NewsHour to the tune of $200,000, as well as a substantial supporter of NPR. The remainder of the amount is mostly given in increments of a few hundred dollars a piece to various individuals as "recitation prizes" at different readings around the country and as small grants for book purchases to public and performing arts schools. But a handful of $10,000 grants are routinely given out each year to various writing programs supporting the art of poetry. Not many, but it happens.

These gifts are generally not announced and there are no open calls for applications. For the most part the Foundation tends to favor organizations that are seen as overall stalwarts of the scene and keepers of the flame, like the Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, and Poets House (all located in New York City it should be noted). They also lend regular support to their home base of Chicago, regularly giving $10,000 grants to organizations like Snow City Arts Foundation and the Young Chicago Authors for their ongoing programming.

The Poetry Foundation has a reputation to uphold and president Robert Polito isn't about to let the reputation become tarnished (read Polito's IP profile) , so it's unlikely to give to any organization that could be seen as "run-of-the mill." It is, after all, king and queen-makers in many ways. But there's definitely more than meets the eye in with its giving habits and it's not just the kings and queens who receive the bounty.