Holy Cross Associate Professor Named Worcester Poet Laureate

Oliver de la Paz, associate professor of English. Photo by Austin Bosworth

Oliver de la Paz, an award-winning poet and literary educator, will serve in the role through December 2025.

Worcester officials have appointed Oliver de la Paz, associate professor of English and award-winning author, as the city’s poet laureate. He will serve in the role until December 2025.

In the role, de la Paz will use his experience as a poet and educator in the wider literary community to expand access to the arts in Worcester.

“Worcester has a storied history of having great poets live within the community, from Stanley Kunitz to Elizabeth Bishop to Chris Gilbert. I wish to teach the community about these poets whose works were profoundly influenced by this landscape,” de la Paz wrote in his application to the poet laureate program.

De la Paz is the author of several works, including “The Boy in the Labyrinth” (2019), “Post Subject: A Fable” (2014), “Requiem for the Orchard” (2010), “Furious Lullaby” (2007), and “Names Above Houses” (2001).

In describing his work to the city selection committee, de la Paz reflected on the stories of his family’s immigration. He hopes his work will help him “serve as a literary model for up-and-coming wordsmiths through writing workshops in conjunction with library programming for people who may not have had the opportunity to share their truths.”

De la Paz was a founding member of Kundiman, a nonprofit dedicated to uplifting Asian-American writing, and has served two terms on the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Board of Trustees. He is a grant recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts, an Artist Trust GAP Grant, and a fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts.

His first official appearance as Worcester’s poet laureate was Jan. 6 at the swearing-in ceremony of new city manager Eric D. Batista. Worcester officials will recognize de la Paz at a later event when the city will present him with a ceremonial medal created by local metal artist Pam Farren.

“I am thrilled to begin my term as city manager alongside such a talented and distinguished poet. I look forward to Oliver’s tenure as the Worcester poet laureate and cannot wait to see what literary impact he has in store for our community,” Batista said in a news release.

In addition to sharing his poetry and creating new works during his term, de la Paz will also serve as a mentor to the Worcester Youth Poet Laureate Adael Mejia. The two poets are ambassadors to Worcester’s poetry and literary arts communities.