RI State Poet resigns

State Poet Leaves Post for California 
Search Begins for New Poet Laureate 
- Governor Gina M. Raimondo Thursday accepted the resignation of State Poet Rick Benjamin, effective January 15, 2016. Benjamin is moving to California and has accepted a teaching and administrative position at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  The State Arts Council will begin to organize the search for a new State Poet.

"The poem that Rick wrote and recited for my Inauguration helped set the tone for the new Administration," said Raimondo. "He has brought poetry into schools and community centers throughout the state, and showed that art is essential to Rhode Island. As State Poet, Rick Benjamin has helped to advance the art form in Rhode Island. We are grateful for his work, and thank him for his service."

Benjamin was appointed to a five year term as State Poet by Governor Lincoln Chafee in January 2013. At the time, Benjamin said, his "deepest wish during my tenure will be to saturate this small state with poetry - in schools, community and assisted living centers, in places where poetry already has a presence and in some other ones where it is desperately needed." 

In his letter of resignation Benjamin told Raimondo that he plans to continue this work through the fall and into the New Year.
The position of Rhode Island State Poet was established by law in 1989 and is traditionally held by an artist who represents the highest achievement in poetry in our state. While no specific duties are mentioned in the legislation, the State Poet serves as the principal advocate for poetry in Rhode Island. Rick Benjamin was the fifth Rhode Island State Poet.  Previous state poets are Michael Harper (1989-1994) and C.D. Wright (1994-1999), Thomas Chandler (1999-2006) and Lisa Starr (2007-2012).
(release from Governor's Office)