For Immediate Release

W.S. Di Piero Awarded 2012 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize

Award recognizes lifetime accomplishment with $100,000 prize

April 17, 2012

CHICAGO — The Poetry Foundation is pleased to announce that poet W.S. Di Piero has won the 2012 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.

Presented annually to a living U.S. 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, along with the 2012 Emily Dickinson First Book Award, at the Poetry Foundation on Monday, June 11.

In making the announcement, Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry magazine, noted that the selection may surprise some and hoped it would bring Di Piero new readers.

“R.P. Blackmur once said that great poetry ‘adds to the stock of available reality,’ and that’s certainly true of W.S. Di Piero’s work. He wakes up the language, and in doing so wakes up his readers, whose lives are suddenly sharper and larger than they were before. He’s a great poet whose work is just beginning to get the wide audience it deserves.”

Born in 1945 in Philadelphia, W.S. Piero has authored ten books of poetry, including, most recently in 2011, Nitro Nights, as well as five essay collections. He has also translated Giacomo Leopardi’s Pensieri and Ion by Euripides, among others. Professor emeritus of English at Stanford University, Di Piero writes a regular column on the visual arts for the independent newsweekly the San Diego Reader and contributes regularly to The Threepenny Review. His poetry and translations have been published widely, including in The New Yorker, Poetry, Ploughshares, The American Poetry Review, and Agni, and his essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The New Republic, The American Scholar, Commonweal, Bookforum, and elsewhere. The recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, he won the California Book Award in Poetry for Chinese Apples: New and Selected Poems in 2007. He lives in San Francisco, California.

“In recognizing the lifetime accomplishments of W.S. Di Piero, we also honor the woman whose name the award bears; Ruth Lilly was a extraordinary friend of poetry whose generosity and dedication to the art remain peerless,” said John Barr, president of the Poetry Foundation.

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, Eleanor Ross Taylor, and David Ferry.

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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 partnerships, prizes, and programs. Opened to the public in June 2011, the Poetry Foundation building in Chicago provides new space for the Foundation’s extensive roster of public programs and events. It also houses a public garden, a library, and an exhibition gallery, as well as the offices of the Poetry Foundation and Poetry magazine. For more information, please visit poetryfoundation.org.

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Media Contact: Stephanie Hlywak, 312.799.8016; shlywak@poetryfoundation.org

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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