2013 Bollingen poetry prize goes to Charles Wright
New Haven, Conn.—Charles Wright, hailed as one of the leading American poets of his generation, has been named the winner of Yale’s 2013 Bollingen Prize for American Poetry.
The Bollingen Prize in American Poetry is among the most prestigious prizes given to American writers. Established by Paul Mellon in 1949, it is awarded biennially by the Yale University Library to an American poet for the best book published during the previous two years or for lifetime achievement in poetry. The prize includes a cash award of $150,000.
“A poet of remarkable scope and ambition, Wright’s lyrics are like verbal scroll paintings, considering a vast landscape but exploring every aspect in exquisite detail, a stylistic combination that properly figures both the significance and insignificance of the human,” noted the three-member judging committee. “In poems that render the poignancy of moving time, the constancy of the landscape, and the mystery of the invisible, Wright binds the secular and the sacred in language charged with urgency and grace.”
The judges awarded Wright the Bollingen Prize for his 2012 book, “Bye-and-Bye: Selected Late Poems,” describing it as “an extended meditation in which we sense ‘splinters of the divine’ in the phenomena and cyclic changes of the natural world, and in the elusive reaches of memory, myth, and history.”
“At the same time,” they noted, “this volume succeeds in capturing the Morandi-like quality that Wright describes as ‘the metaphysics of the quotidian’.”
While stationed in Italy during four years of service in the U.S. Army, Wright discovered the work of Ezra Pound and began to write poetry for the first time. His first collection of poems, “The Grave of the Right Hand,” was published in 1970.
On learning he had been awarded the Bollingen Prize, Wright responded that he was delighted: “I always fantasized about winning the Bollingen Prize because it’s the only prize Pound ever won.”
Wright’s recent books include: “Outtakes” (2010); “Sestets: Poems” (2009); “Littlefoot: A Poem” (2008); “Scar Tissue” (2007); “The Wrong End of the Rainbow” (2005); and “Buffalo Yoga” (2004). His two volumes of criticism are: “Halflife” (1988), and “Quarter Notes” (1995). He has translated the work of Dino Campana and Eugenio Montale.
Wright, the Souder Family Professor of English, emeritus, at the University of Virginia, has received numerous awards during his career, including the National Book Award, the PEN Translation Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Griffin Prize, the American Book Award in Poetry, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award.
The Bollingen Prize has honored the literary accomplishments of poets whose work continues to be a force in shaping contemporary American letters. Early Bollingen Prize winners — Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore, and E.E. Cummings — are widely considered writers whose work defined a new American literature of the 20th century. More recent winners — John Ashbery, Robert Creeley, Louise Glück, John Hollander, Gary Snyder, Jay Wright, and Adrienne Rich — represent “exciting stylistic diversity in American writing,” note the prize organizers.
This year’s judges were poet Susan Howe; poet, critic, and editor Geoffrey O’Brien; and literary scholar and cultural critic Joan Richardson.
Howe is the author of numerous books of poetry including “The Midnight,” “Souls of the Labadie Tract,” “The Europe of Trusts, Pierce-Arrow,” and “Singularities.” Her most recent book, “That This,” was awarded the Bollingen Prize in 2011. Among O’Brien’s many book titles are “The Fall of the House of Walworth,” “Sonata for Jukebox,” and “Dream Time: Chapters from the Sixties.” He has published six collections of poetry of which the most recent is “Early Autumn.” A book of his writings on film 2002–2012 will be published later this year. O’Brien is the editor-in-chief of the Library of America. Richardson is professor of English, comparative literature, and American studies at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Author of a two-volume biography of the poet Wallace Stevens, she co-edited, with Frank Kermode, “Wallace Stevens: Collected Poetry and Prose.” Her study “A Natural History of Pragmatism: The Fact of Feeling from Jonathan Edwards to Gertrude Stein” was published in 2007; her book “Pragmatism and American Experience” will be published later this year.
For more information about Charles Wright visit the following Web pages:
From “Buffalo Yoga Coda I” by Charles Wright, in “Bye-and-Bye: Selected Late Poems,” Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2011.
I think I’ll lie down just here for a while,
the sun on my cheek,
The wind like grass stems across my face,
And listen to what the world says,
the luminous, transubstantiated world,
That holds me like nothing in its look.
CONTACT: Dorie Baker 203-432-8553 firstname.lastname@example.org
For Immediate Release: January 22, 2013
By Hand: A Celebration of the Manuscript Collections of Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
January 18 – April 29, 2013
By Hand celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript with an exploration of its manuscript collections. The exhibition begins where the Yale College Library collection of early manuscripts began, with a mirror of humanity, a copy of the Speculum humanae salvationis given by Elihu Yale. It ends with the manuscripts and drafts of “Miracle of the Black Leg,” a poem written by U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey while she was a research fellow at the Beinecke Library in 2009.
Manuscript, from the Latin term “by hand,” derives from the ablative case: locational, instrumental, situated always in relation to something or someone else. Like the term, this exhibition explores the reflections of humanity in the Beinecke’s manuscript collections, presenting them as markers of the social contracts of love, creativity, need, power, that bind us into historical record even as they bind us to one another.
The exhibition ranges across the Beinecke Library manuscript collections, in an extraordinary display of the Library’s manuscript holdings, from papyri of the 2nd century A.D. through working drafts by contemporary poets, from manuscripts in the original Yale Library to recent additions to the collections. On view are manuscripts, notes, and proof copies of works by Langston Hughes, Rachel Carson, Edith Wharton, Zora Neale Hurston, Terry Tempest Williams, James Joyce, F. T. Marinetti, Goethe, and others; the Voynich Manuscript, the Vinland Map, the Lewis and Clark expedition map and journals, the Martellus map; the last paragraphs of Thoreau’s manuscript of Walden; letters, postcards, poetry, and notes by Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Georgia O’Keeffe, Franz Kafka, Mark Twain, Erica Jong, and others; early manuscripts from a tenth-century Byzantine prayer roll, a fragment of lyric verse on papyri, the Rothschild Canticles, a fourteenth-century ivory writing tablet, and the first illuminated medieval manuscript known in a North American collection.
Editing Charlotte Wilder
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Room 38
121 Wall St.
New Haven, CT 06511
The poet Charlotte Wilder (1898-1980) was one of three younger sisters of the novelist and playwright Thornton Wilder, and the oldest daughter in the prolific and literary family. Her poems appeared in magazines such as “Poetry”, “The Nation”, and “The North Georgia Review” in the 1930s, and she published two volumes of poetry, “Phases of the Moon” (1936) and “Mortal Sequence” (1939), both well received by critics. In 1941 she suffered a schizophrenic crisis and was hospitalized. She remained in institutions, with the exception of a brief period living in New York City during the early 1950s, for the rest of her life. Although her aspirations to continue as a professional writer remained, her writing career came to an end with the onset of mental illness.
The life and work of Charlotte Wilder offers a striking case study for issues of authorship and gender in 1930s America. Her previously published but out of print volumes speak uniquely to the aesthetic imperatives and the milieu of modernism. She left behind approximately 200 unpublished poems that reflect her distinctive intellect and emotional landscape. She was at different times both brilliantly experimental and innovatively traditional in her practice, with a broad scope of expertise as a writer and an individual formal trajectory. She crafted poetry with subtlety and surprise.
Completing her term as a Thornton Wilder Fellow in Wilder Studies, Caroline Maun will discuss the rewards and challenges of editing a proposed volume that collects Charlotte Wilder’s published and unpublished verse.
Caroline Maun is Associate Professor of English at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. She is the editor of “The Collected Poems of Evelyn Scott” (National Poetry Foundation, 2005) and the author of “Mosaic of Fire: The Work of Lola Ridge, Evelyn Scott, Charlotte Wilder, and Kay Boyle” (Univ. of South Carolina Press, 2012). She has published one volume of poetry, “The Sleeping”, and her second volume titled “What Remains” is forthcoming in 2013.
Welcome Thornton Wilder Fellow
Wayne State University
The Complete Poems of Charlotte Wilder
Caroline Maun is Associate Professor in the English Department at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. She is the editor of The Collected Poems of Evelyn Scott (National Poetry Foundation) and Mosaic of Fire: The Work of Lola Ridge, Evelyn Scott, Charlotte Wilder, and Kay Boyle (University of South Carolina Press). She teaches twentieth-century American literature, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Caroline will be at the Beinecke through February 1.
Christian Wiman Joins Yale Faculty: http://www.yale.edu/ism/academics/WimanJoinsFacutly.html
Martin Jean has announced the appointment of Christian Wiman to the faculty of the Yale Institute of Sacred Music as Senior Lecturer in Religion and Literature. The first five-year term of the joint appointment with Yale Divinity School begins July 1, 2013.
Christian Wiman is one of the most significant names in the poetry world today. Raised in West Texas, he was educated at Washington and Lee University in Virginia. He has taught at Stanford, Northwestern, and the Prague School of Economics, and for the last decade has served as editor of Poetry, the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world. Under Wiman’s leadership, the magazine experienced significant growth in both readership and content. In 2007, the New York Times described his editorship as one of “enthusiastic adventurousness, publishing a wide range of poetic styles, turbo-charging the back of the book with essays…and reviews engaged in debate both lively and dead serious.”
Christian Wiman is the author, translator, or editor of seven books. His most recent book of poems, Every Riven Thing (FSG, 2010), won the Commonwealth Prize from the English Speaking Union and was a finalist for the Kingsley-Tufts Prize. It was named one of the ten best poetry books of the year by the New Yorker and by the National Post in Canada. His translations of Osip Mandelstam are collected in Stolen Air (Ecco, 2012); and a new book of non-fiction, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer, will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in the spring.
His work has received wide acclaim. Writer Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (2003-2009) states that Christian Wiman is “one of the most important American poets and poetry critics now active. He is a writer of depth, ambition, and originality. There is no one in his generation for whom I have a higher regard.” The Pulitzer prizewinner Marilynne Robinson writes, “The thing that impresses me most [about Wiman’s work]…is that faith, with all its complexities, really matters to him. He need not have made it his subject… That Wiman does so means that his poetry and his scholarship have a purifying urgency that is rare in this world. This puts him at the very source of theology, and enables him to say new things in timeless language, so that the reader’s surprise and assent are one and the same.”
Beyond his accomplishments as poet and essayist, Wiman’s perspective on the Christian theological tradition is profound. David J. Rothman (First Things) writes that Christian Wiman is “one of the preeminent devotional poets of any faith now writing in English.” Of Every Riven Thing, Dana Jennings (The New York Times) reports that it is an “ecstatic ruckus worthy of Gerard Manley Hopkins, who also tasted the tears in things—and the holy too.” He has been interviewed by Bill Moyers and Krista Tippett, and recently appeared on the PBS NewsHour.
Wiman will join Prof. Peter Hawkins in teaching courses on subjects at the intersection of theology and literature, one of the cornerstones of the Institute’s interdisciplinary curriculum. Wiman’s extraordinary gifts as poet, teacher, critic, and editor will make him a natural partner in the musical, liturgical, and artistic life of the Institute, nurturing the formation of future preachers, theologians, and scholars in the Divinity School, and enhancing intellectual life throughout the Yale community.