For Immediate Release

David Ferry Awarded 2011 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize

Award recognizes lifetime accomplishment with $100,000 prize

April 12, 2011

CHICAGO — The Poetry Foundation is pleased to announce that poet David Ferry has won the 2011 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.

Presented annually to a living US poet whose lifetime accomplishments warrant extraordinary recognition, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize is one of the most prestigious awards given to American poets. At $100,000, it is also one of the nation’s largest literary prizes. Established in 1986, the prize is sponsored and administered by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. The prize will be presented at the Pegasus Awards ceremony at the Arts Club of Chicago on Wednesday, May 11; the next Children’s Poet Laureate will also be announced at the ceremony.

In making the announcement, Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry magazine, noted the quiet power in Ferry’s verse.

“David Ferry is probably best known as a translator—and his achievements in that regard are extraordinary—but I think in the end it will be his poems that last,” said Wiman. “In a time when most poetry relies on intense surface energy, Ferry’s effects are muted and subterranean—but then, in their cumulative effect, seismic. For 50 years he has practiced poetry as if it truly matters to our lives and to our souls—and now his poems have that rare power to wake us up to both.”

Ferry has authored, edited, or translated more than a dozen books. His collections of poetry and translations include On the Way to the Island (1960); A Letter, and Some Photographs (1981); Strangers: A Book of Poems (1984); Gilgamesh: A New Rendering in English Verse (1992), a finalist for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award; Dwelling Places: Poems and Translations (1993); and Of No Country I Know: New and Selected Poems and Translations (1999). Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations will be published in fall 2012.

The emeritus Sophie Chantal Hart Professor of English at Wellesley College, Ferry is currently serving as a visiting lecturer in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at Boston University and is a distinguished visiting scholar at Suffolk University. Over the course of his long career Ferry has received many awards and fellowships, including a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets, the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry from the Library of Congress, and an Academy Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

“Now in its 26th year, the Lilly Prize celebrates at once our finest living poets and Ruth Lilly, poetry’s greatest benefactor,” said Poetry Foundation president John Barr. “This year’s winner, David Ferry, continues that grand tradition.”

Previous recipients of the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize are Adrienne Rich, Philip Levine, Anthony Hecht, Mona Van Duyn, Hayden Carruth, David Wagoner, John Ashbery, Charles Wright, Donald Hall, A.R. Ammons, Gerald Stern, William Matthews, W.S. Merwin, Maxine Kumin, Carl Dennis, Yusef Komunyakaa, Lisel Mueller, Linda Pastan, Kay Ryan, C.K. Williams, Richard Wilbur, Lucille Clifton, Gary Snyder, Fanny Howe, and Eleanor Ross Taylor.

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About the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize
American poetry has no greater friend than Ruth Lilly. Over many years and in many ways, it has been blessed by her personal generosity. In 1985 she endowed the Ruth Lilly Professorship in Poetry at Indiana University. In 1989 she created Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowships, for $15,000 each, given annually by the Poetry Foundation to undergraduate or graduate students selected through a national competition. In 2002 her lifetime engagement with poetry culminated in a magnificent bequest that will enable the Poetry Foundation to promote, in perpetuity, a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture.

About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs. For more information, please visit poetryfoundation.org.

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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