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Former Delaware Poet Laureate JoAnn Balingit Receives Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award

Wilmington, Del. – The Delaware Division of the Arts is pleased to announce that Dr. JoAnn Balingit has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award in Literature: Creative Writing to the Philippines for the 2023-2024 academic year from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Dr. JoAnn Balingit served as Delaware’s 16th poet laureate from 2008 to 2015. A poet and essayist, her work has been honored with 2022 fellowships in creative nonfiction from the Delaware Division of the Arts and from the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation. She received a 2021 Pushcart Prize nomination and was featured in Poetry Magazine’s August 2021 Poetry Podcast. Her poems and essays are published widely.

As an advocate for arts-in-education and community arts access, JoAnn has directed state-wide programs such the Delaware Writing Region of Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for middle school and high school students; led poetry workshops and writing retreats for adults, and has taught poetry writing at the University of Delaware. Dr. Balingit also teaches creative writing classes at New Castle County Libraries for the Creative Aging program, with an emphasis on storytelling through memory work. She has been a coordinator and teaching artist for Delaware’s Poetry Out Loud program for the past 15 years.

“Dr. Balingit is deserving of this prestigious award,” said Governor John Carney. “Throughout her career — and especially during her time as Delaware’s poet laureate — she has shown a passion for sharing creative storytelling with our community. I want to congratulate Dr. Balingit on this achievement and look forward to seeing her future work.”

“Congratulations to Dr. JoAnn Balingit on being awarded the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. Dr. Balingit’s selection for this esteemed honor is a testament to her exceptional talent and dedication to the literary arts. Throughout her career, she has demonstrated a deep commitment to storytelling and fostering arts-in-education and community arts access. Her contributions as Delaware’s poet laureate and her extensive work in the field exemplify her passion for nurturing the artistic growth of others. We are thrilled for Dr. Balingit and look forward to the valuable cultural exchange and insights she will bring during her Fulbright journey. Congratulations once again on this well-deserved recognition,” said Jessica Ball, Director of the Delaware Division of the Arts.

Dr. Balingit’s project, entitled WHAT WERE the NAMES of the TREES? A Memoir, is a hybrid-genre lyrical work about growing up bi-racial in the American South, and coming of age in the aftermath of the violent loss of her parents. Separated from her eight younger siblings, the lonely teen enters adulthood desperate to belong. During her stay in Pampanga Province, she will seek an understanding of her Filipino family history and the forces that shaped her father’s education and environment as a U.S. colonial subject before he migrated to the United States.

With archival research, interviews, and a fuller view of race and empire, especially as it relates to erased Filipino American history, and diaspora, the mestiza writer traces her parents’ lives and her own path of survival to becoming a writer. Most compellingly, she traces how her attitude toward her mixed identify and her father’s legacy has changed. As a poet who experiences language as the richest living tie to a silenced history, during this Fulbright grant she will continue to study in depth her father’s native language and culture, Kapampángan.

Dr. JoAnn Balingit is among over 800 U.S. citizens who will teach or conduct research abroad for the 2023-2024 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. Scholars engage in cutting-edge research and expand their professional networks, often continuing research collaborations started abroad and laying the groundwork for forging future partnerships between institutions. Upon returning to their home countries, institutions, labs, and classrooms, they share their stories and often become active supporters of international exchange, inviting foreign scholars to campus and encouraging colleagues and students to go abroad.

As Fulbright Scholar alumni, their careers are enriched by joining a network of thousands of esteemed scholars, many of whom are leaders in their fields. Notable Fulbright alumni include 62 Nobel Prize laureates, 89 Pulitzer Prize recipients, 78 MacArthur Fellows, and 41 who have served as a head of state or government. Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 400,000 participants from over 160 countries – chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential – with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to challenges facing our communities and our world.

In addition, over 2,000 U.S. students, artists, and early career professionals from all backgrounds in more than 100 different fields of study receive Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards annually to study, teach English, and conduct research overseas.

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and is supported by the people of the United States and partner countries around the world. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the Program. In the United States, the Institute of International Education supports the implementation of the Fulbright U.S. Student and Scholar Programs on behalf of the U.S. Department of State, including conducting an annual competition for the scholarships.

For more information about the Fulbright Program, visit

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