Joseph Frederick Awad (May 17, 1929 – July 17, 2009) was a poet, painter, public relations and executive. He was appointed national president of the Public Relations Society of America in 1982 and Poet Laureate of Virginia in 1998. Awad was inducted into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame in 1992. His poetry has been anthologized with both Arab-American and Irish-American writers (see List of Arab American writers).
Born in the coal-mining town of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania to Frederick Awad and Helen Dwyer. His father was first generation Lebanese immigrant and his mother first generation Irish immigrant. In 1939, after the death of his mother, his father moved them to Washington DC and opened a barber shop in the Mayflower Hotel. Awad obtained a scholarship to Gonzaga College High School. He then attended Georgetown University where he was editor of The Georgetown Journal, and graduated cum laude with a BA in English Literature. While in school he worked for the Washington Bureau of the New York Daily News, then later for Dave Herman public relations firm. He took graduate courses in literature at George Washington University and night courses in painting and drawing at the Corcoran School of Art. Awad went to work with Reynolds Metals Company in 1957, from which he retired in 1993 as executive vice president for public relations. After time spent in Louisville, Kentucky and Chicago, Illinois, he and his wife Doris settled in Richmond, Virginia in 1963. They have ten children.
Over the years, Awad held many local board memberships including, Commonwealth Catholic Charities, Friends of the Richmond Library, and The New Virginia Review. He was also chairman of the Diocesan Communications Commission and vice-president of the Virginia Writer's Club.
Joseph Awad died in Richmond, Virginia, surrounded by his family on July 17, 2009.
Awad was appointed national president of the Public Relations Society of America in 1982 and chaired their prestigious College of Fellows. He was awarded the Thomas Jefferson Award for career achievement by the Society’s Old Dominion Chapter. The Power of Public Relations was published in 1985 by Praeger Publishers, NY. He was inducted into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame in 1992.
Awad has published four books of poetry and his poems have been included in many anthologies and literary journals, including Commonweal, Parnassus, The Kansas Quarterly, the William and Mary Review, and The Poet's Domain. He was a member and eventual president of the Poetry Society of Virginia and awarded their Edgar Allan Poe Prize. Other prizes include The Lyric’s Nathan Haskell Dole Prize and the Donn Goodwin Prize for Poetry. Awad was Poet Laureate of Virginia for the term 1998-2000.
The Neon Distances, 1980
Shenandoah Long Ago, 1990
Leaning to Hear the Music, 1997
The Big Bang, 1999 Late Into the Night, 2009
Construction Ahead, a chapbook with Irish poet Ger Killeen, 1989
The Power of Public Relations, 1985
American Religious Poems, an anthology by Harold Bloom
Grape Leaves: A Century of Arab-American Poetry
The Next Parish Over: A Collection of Irish-American Writing
Menton’s Anthology of Magazine Verse and Yearbook of American Poetry
The Zero Anthology
The Poetry Society of Virginia Anthology
- http://www.loc.gov/rr/main/poets/virginia.html Virginia Law and Library of Congress List of Virginia Poets Laureate
- Awad, Joseph. Leaning to Hear the Music. Road Publishers, 1997.
- Robertson, Ellen. "Reynold PR executive, poet dies." Richmond Times-Dispatch, July 19, 2009.
- Orfalea and Elmusa, ed. Grape Leaves: A Century of Arab-American Poetry. Interlink Books, 2000.