We mourn the death of our friend and colleague, the poet Marie Ponsot, who died at ninety-eight on Friday, July 5. Writing copiously but not publishing for almost twenty-five years at the busiest time of her life—for she had married a French painter, Claude Ponsot, and had seven children—Marie ended with seven books of poetry and most of the awards American poets seek, including the Poetry Society of America Shelley Award, the Frost Medal for lifetime achievement, and the Ruth Lilly Award.
Starting as a part-time teacher in the English Department of Queens College, Marie retired professor emerita. She taught graduate poetry workshops at Columbia, NYU, the New School, and the 92nd Street Y. She was a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She read the many entries for awards for PSA—read all she was sent, not just those by a favorite or student.
Aside from prominent honors, obscure but crucial work. She was for twenty-four years a member of the PEN Prison Writing Committee. She wrote the PEN Handbook for Writers in Prison, read the poetry entries, and tirelessly fundraised. (She was also briefly one of this magazine’s poetry editors.)