Alumna Karen D. Skolfield, a lecturer in the College of Engineering Junior Year Writing Program and a writer-in-residence in the college’s Career Development and Experiential Learning Center, has been named Northampton’s ninth Poet Laureate for the 2019–2021 term. In addition to being a longtime staff member in the College of Engineering, Skolfield earned her Master of Fine Arts degree from UMass Amherst.
“Northampton has a strong commitment to the arts, and I was delighted and honored to be chosen as the next laureate by the Northampton Arts Council,” said Skolfield. “The work of getting more poetry before the public is worthy and necessary, and I’m happy to be part of that process.”
As Northampton’s ninth laureate, Skolfield joins the ranks of other distinguished poets Martin Espada, Janet Aalfs, Jack Gilbert, Lesléa Newman, Lenelle Moïse, Richard Michelson, Patrick Donnelly, and Amy Dryansky.
The Northampton Poet Laureate position is a two-year term, during which Skolfield will celebrate Northampton’s vibrant and diverse poetry community through activities of interest to herself and will educate the public about the importance of poets and poetry to Northampton’s civic and artistic life.
The Poet Laureate selection committee read poetry by various nominees, discussed a wide range of quality in all their work, and considered their success in the larger poetry world.
As a U.S. Army veteran, Skolfield’s upcoming book Battle Dress won the Barnard Women Poet’s Prize and will be published in August of 2019. She is also the winner of the 2014 PEN New England Award for Literary Excellence for her poetry book Frost in the Low Areas. In addition, she was selected for the 2016 Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize in poetry from the Missouri Review. (April 2019)