• Gerber+Scarpelli
  • Robert Polito

When the Poetry Foundation hired John Barr as president nearly a decade ago, they were looking for someone who not only was a practicing poet, but would know how to handle the more than $100 million they’d recently been given by pharmaceutical heir and poetry fan Ruth Lilly. Barr filled the bill because he’d had a 30-year career as a Wall Street investment banker and entrepreneur along with his published-poet chops.

It looks like financial expertise is no longer the issue: the Poetry Foundation announced today that its new president will be poet and professor Robert Polito, longtime head of the creative writing program at the New School. He’ll take over in July. A Harvard PhD in literature, Polito is also a critic; he won a National Book Critics Circle award in 1996 for Savage Art, a biography of crime novelist Jim Thompson. His most recent book of poems, Hollywood and God, was published in 2009 by University of Chicago Press. There’s a sample here.