Landis Everson, Tony Hoagland, and William Logan Win Major New Prizes for American Poets
Chicago — The Poetry Foundation announced that Landis Everson, Tony Hoagland, and William Logan are the winners of its second annual Pegasus Awards. The announcement was made at a dinner ceremony last night on the stage of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park in Chicago. The prizes honor achievements not already acknowledged by other poetry awards.
Landis Everson received the Emily Dickinson First Book Award recognizing an American poet over the age of 50 who has yet to publish a first book of poetry. Everson, 79, was an inner member of the Berkeley Renaissance during the late 1940s with his friends Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer, and Robin Blaser. He encountered a young John Ashbery while doing his Master's at Columbia in 1951. In 1955 he made the first of three appearances in Poetry magazine. Everson had not written poetry for more than forty years when his rediscovery last year in Fulcrum 3 (The Berkeley Renaissance, edited by Ben Mazer) became the catalyst for a return to poetry. Everson's manuscript was selected from over 1,100 entries in the first annual Foundation contest. Of his collection, John Barr, president of The Poetry Foundation, said, "Landis Everson came of age as a poet in Berkeley in the 1940s and 1950s—then put his writing aside for 43 years. His sudden return comes in a flood of poems written in the past two years. The fresh, accomplished voice at our elbow sounds like that of a major American poet—except that it belongs to none of them. It belongs to Landis Everson." Many of the poems in Everson's winning manuscript, Everything Preserved: Poems 1955-2005, were written between 2003 and 2005. In addition to publication and promotion of his manuscript by Graywolf Press, Everson received a cash prize of $10,000. He is a resident of San Luis Obispo, California.
Tony Hoagland was named the recipient of the second Mark Twain Poetry Award of $25,000, recognizing a poet's contribution to humor in American poetry. The award is given in the belief that humorous poetry can also be seriously good poetry, and in the hope that American poetry will in time produce its own Mark Twain. Hoagland, 51, is the author of three collections of poetry: Sweet Ruin (1992) which received the 1992 Brittingham Prize in Poetry and the Zacharis Award from Emerson College; Donkey Gospel (1998); and What Narcissism Means to Me (Graywolf Press, 2003). In presenting the award, Stephen Young, program director of the Foundation, said, "There is nothing escapist or diversionary about Tony Hoagland's poetry. Here's misery, death, envy, hypocrisy, and vanity. But the still sad music of humanity is played with such a light touch on an instrument so sympathetically tuned that one can't help but laugh. Wit and morality rarely consort these days; it's good to see them happily, often hilariously reunited in the winner's poetry." Hoagland's other honors include two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Jenny McKean Moore Fellowship from George Washington University in 1999-2000. He lives in Houston, Texas, and teaches at the University of Houston.
William Logan was the recipient of the first Randall Jarrell Award in Poetry Criticism of $10,000 for poetry criticism that is intelligent and learned, as well as lively and enjoyable to read. The prize is intended for criticism aimed at a large general readership rather than an audience of specialists. Logan, 54, is the author of four books of criticism: All the Rage (1998), Reputations of the Tongue (1999), Desperate Measures (2002), and The Undiscovered Country (2005); and co-editor of a book on the poetry of Donald Justice, Certain Solitudes (1997). Reputations of the Tongue was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award in criticism. Upon conferring the honor, Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry, noted, "William Logan has been called 'the most hated man in American poetry,' but the truth is that even those who can't stand his opinions can't keep themselves from reading him. He is provocative, incisive, inventive, and, best of all, he is a great prose stylist." Logan was a regular critic of poetry for the New York Times Book Review for almost twenty years and writes a biannual verse chronicle for the New Criterion. He has won the Citation for Excellence in Reviewing from the National Book Critics Circle, the Peter I.B. Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets, the John Masefield and Celia B. Wagner Awards from the Poetry Society of America, and the J. Howard and Barbara M. J. Wood Prize from Poetry. In 2004 he received the Corrington Award for Literary Excellence. Logan is also the author of seven books of poetry: Sad-faced Men (1982), Difficulty (1985), Sullen Weedy Lakes (1988), Vain Empires (1998), Night Battle (1999), Macbeth in Venice (2003), and The Whispering Gallery (2005). He is a past recipient of the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship and has received grants from the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Florida Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Logan resides in Gainesville, Florida, and in Cambridge, England. He teaches at the University of Florida.
In addition to the three awards, the Foundation announced the publication of Samuel Menashe's New and Selected Poems by the Library of America. Menashe was the winner of the Foundation's 2004 Neglected Masters Award, a prize designed to bring renewed critical attention to the work of an under-recognized, significant American poet.
The Poetry Foundation has established a family of prizes with an emphasis on new awards to under-recognized poets and types of poetry. Inaugurated in 2004, the Pegasus Awards are named annually in the fall. The Foundation believes that targeted prizes can help redress underappreciated accomplishments, diversify the kinds of poetry being written, as well as widen the audience for the art form. With this in mind it intends to create additional prizes in the years ahead.
Each year The Poetry Foundation brings a major poet to Chicago to read from his or her work on Poetry Day. This year Nobel Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott will read on November 16th in Chicago on the 50th Anniversary of Poetry Day. Inaugurated by Robert Frost in 1955, Poetry Day is now the most distinguished poetry reading series in the country, having presented T. S. Eliot, Elizabeth Bishop, Carl Sandburg, W. H. Auden, Anne Sexton, John Ashbery, James Merrill, Adrienne Rich, Gwendolyn Brooks, Rita Dove, Billy Collins, Seamus Heaney, and U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser.
Founded in Chicago by Harriet Monroe in 1912, Poetry magazine is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world. Harriet Monroe's "Open Door" policy, set forth in Volume I of the magazine, remains the most succinct statement of Poetry's mission: to print the best poetry written today, in whatever style, genre, or approach. The magazine established its reputation early by publishing the first important poems of T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, H. D., William Carlos Williams, Carl Sandburg, and other now-classic authors. In succeeding decades it has presented—often for the first time—works by virtually every significant poet of the 20th century. Poetry has always been independent, unaffiliated with any institution or university—or with any single poetic or critical movement or aesthetic school. On average, the magazine receives over 90,000 submissions per year, from around the world.
Graywolf Press is an independent, not-for-profit publisher dedicated to the creation and promotion of thoughtful and imaginative contemporary literature essential to a vital and diverse culture. The Press has published significant books of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and translations for over thirty years, and has become one of the leading literary publishers in the country. Graywolf was founded in 1974 in Port Townsend, Washington, as a publisher of poetry, and moved to its current location in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in 1985, and expanded its lists to include fiction, nonfiction, and translation. Poetry has always remained at the heart of the Press. For more information, please visit www.graywolfpress.org.
The Poetry Foundation is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It has embarked on an ambitious plan to bring the best poetry before the largest possible audience. In the coming year, the Foundation will sponsor a national recitation contest in the schools, a major new poetry website, and an unprecedented study to understand poetry's place in American culture.
The violin plays with the tide
with water rushing over sand,
a hand held over power.
The sea bows back.
It is a musical interaction, an intersection of
waves up, waves down and up. Love rubs like
wet seaweed over rocks.
This goes on until a resemblance grows
between the chin and the violin.
Where they scrape
something else takes their place, a
or perhaps an undertow,
Music could be a tuba pretending to be
a tall tree talking to itself about wind
or the crash of cymbals and drums
that reach the seabeds with their legs.
Always the same scale.
In the mornings our longings dress up
for love. First they take a quick dip
of deep resentment.
First published in the April 2005 issue of Poetry. Copyright © 2005 by Landis Everson.