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Kelly Cherry of Halifax, Va., is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington, and she has received many honors, but she says none is quite like being a poet laureate.
She hopes to use the position to reach out to seniors.
"It's easy for seniors to be overlooked in this society, so I think it's time to pay some attention to them," she says.
Cherry has written 19 fiction and nonfiction books as well as translations of two classical plays. But she says poetry is closest to her heart.
"It is so intimately connected with one's emotions, whereas if you're writing fiction, you're often writing about someone who is very unlike one's self," Cherry says.
In Virginia, poet laureate is a two-year post. Cherry succeeds Claudia Emerson.