The YAS Foundation, a long time friend and supporter of the University of New Hampshire, has donated $2 million to The UNH College of Liberal Arts and the English Department to establish the Nossrat Yassini Poetry Fund in honor of Rouzbeh and Pamela Yassini’s dauntless and devoted mother, Nossrat Yassini (1934-2022)

Nossrat’s love of poetry inspired the creation of this fund. The generous donation from the YAS foundation will support the broad mission to celebrate and promote the power of poetry by providing students, emerging writers, published poets, educators, and the poetry loving community with programming, learning, financial awards, and a stage to express their craft.

The Nossrat Yassini Poetry Fund will promote the art of poetry through:

  • Poetry related activities throughout the year
  • The Nossrat Yassini Poetry Festival held annually in April, national poetry month
  • Yearly support to a Nossrat Yassini Poet in Residence within the English department
  • A Graduate assistantship to a UNH Master of Fine Arts in Writing student.

said Michele Dillon, dean of the College of Liberal Arts expressed her gratitude for the $2 million gift and provided these insightful remarks:

“In a time of tremendous societal change and uncertainty—stoked by technological transformation, geopolitical conflicts, climate change and persistent inequality—this gift allows us to reassert and sustain the power of poetry to remind us of our shared human purpose and to help bridge the many polarizing divisions that mark our current era.”

The UNH College of Liberal Arts and the English Department will host the inaugural Nossrat Yassini Poetry Festival on April 12th & 13th, 2024.


The Nossrat Yassini Poetry Festival is a free event open to all which illuminates the power and potential of the world’s oldest literary form. These treasured compositions, whether passed on through the generations or penned today, enable us to connect to and process our deepest experiences.


  • Educational Workshops
  • Professional Development
  • Poetry Readings
  • Speakers
  • Awards and Recognition
    • The Nossrat Yassini Poetry Festival High School Awards
      • High School Poetry Award $500 to each of three winners
      • High School Poetry Teacher Fellowships $2500 to each of three winners
    • The Nossrat Yassini Poetry Festival USNH Student and Alumni Awards
      • USNH prizes (2) $1,000 First Prizes | (2) $500 Second Prizes
    • The Nossrat Yassini Poetry Festival Professional Poets Awards
    • $10,000 Prize for First Published Book of Poetry
    • Prize for Unpublished New Hampshire Poet $5,000 and publication of first book

Please Join us in the mission to celebrate the gift of poetry, the life of an endlessly loving mother and the spirit of the indomitable woman, Nossrat Yassini.