Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Richard Wilbur Wins Ruth Lilly Prize

Got this in an Email just now from the Poetry Foundation.

Way to go, Mr. Wilbur!!! A formalist, no less!!!
I'm beyond excited.

April 11, 2006
Media Contact: Anne Halsey (312) 799.8016;

$100,000 Award One of Largest to Poets

Chicago -- Poet and translator Richard Wilbur has won the 2006
Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Established in 1986, the prize is one
of the most prestigious given to American poets, and at $100,000
it is one of the nation's largest literary honors. Christian Wiman,
editor of Poetry magazine and chair of the selection committee,
made the announcement today. The prize will be presented at an
evening ceremony at the Arts Club in Chicago on May 25th.

In announcing the award, Wiman said: "If you had to put all your
money on one living poet whose work will be read in a hundred years,
Richard Wilbur would be a good bet. He has written some of the
most memorable poems of our time, and his achievement rivals
that of great American poets like Robert Frost and Elizabeth Bishop."

Richard Wilbur has published over two-dozen poems in Poetry
since his first appearance in the magazine in February 1948.
Wilbur has served as Poet Laureate of the United States and
his many other honors include two Pulitzer Prizes, the National
Book Award, and the Bollingen Translation Prize. He lives with
his wife, Charlotte, in Cummington, Massachusetts.

Born in New York City on March 1, 1921, Wilbur grew up on a
New Jersey farm, was educated at Amherst and Harvard, and
served with the 36th Infantry Division. He was a member of
the prestigious Harvard Fellows and taught there until 1954,
when he moved to Wellesley and then to Wesleyan University.
From Wesleyan he went to Smith as writer-in-residence.
In 1987 he was named the second Poet Laureate of the U.S.,
following Robert Penn Warren.

"No contemporary poet has brought so much lived experience
into such formally perfect poems as Richard Wilbur. Entering
a Wilbur poem is a deeply civil and civilizing experience,
from which we emerge better human beings," said John Barr,
president of the Poetry Foundation. "The Poetry Foundation
is pleased to represent Ruth Lilly, once again, in giving
this major award to a poet as extraordinary as Wilbur."

Wilbur began to write poetry in earnest only after experiencing
the horrific chaos of battle during WW II service as an
infantryman in Italy. No poet of his generation has been
more committed to careful, organized expression or has more
thoroughly mastered the forms and devices of traditional poetry;
this conservative aesthetic and his deep love for "country things"
link Wilbur to the Roman poet Horace and to his fellow American
Robert Frost. He has also produced sparkling, witty translations
of classic French drama and several books for children.

Wilbur's books of poetry include New and Collected Poems (1988),
which won the Pulitzer Prize; The Mind-Reader: New Poems (1976);
Walking to Sleep: New Poems and Translations (1969); Advice to a
Prophet and Other Poems (1961); Things of This World (1956),
for which he received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book
Award; Ceremony and Other Poems (1950); and The Beautiful Changes
and Other Poems (1947). Richard Wilbur's Collected Poems 1943-2004
was published in 2004.

Judges for the 2006 prize were poets Linda Gregerson, Don Paterson,
and Christian Wiman.

"A Barred Owl"
by Richard Wilbur

The warping night-air having brought the boom
Of an owl's voice into her darkened room,
We tell the wakened child that all she heard
Was an odd question from a forest bird,
Asking of us, if rightly listened to,
"Who cooks for you?" and then "Who cooks for you?"

Words, which can make our terrors bravely clear,
Can also thus domesticate a fear,
And send a small child back to sleep at night
Not listening for the sound of stealthy flight
Or dreaming of some small thing in a claw
Borne up to some dark branch and eaten raw.

From Mayflies: New Poems and Translations. (c) 2000 by
Richard Wilbur. Reprinted by permission of Harcourt, Inc.


No comments: