For Immediate Release

In Memoriam: Ruth Lilly, 1915-2009

The staff and trustees of the Poetry Foundation are greatly saddened by Ms. Lilly's death and honor her extraordinary legacy.                    
December 31st, 2009

CHICAGO—The Poetry Foundation is grateful for Ruth Lilly’s extraordinary generosity and kindness. The staff and trustees of the Poetry Foundation are greatly saddened by Ms. Lilly’s death and extend their condolences to her family. Thanks to Ms. Lilly’s munificence, the programs of the Poetry Foundation bring poems to 19 million Americans who would not otherwise read or hear them. From the annual $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize honoring a contemporary poet’s lifetime accomplishment, to five Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowships that go to aspiring poets, to ensuring Poetry magazine continues publishing in perpetuity, to a host of new programs and prizes established by the Poetry Foundation since receiving the bequest, Ruth Lilly’s legacy will allow millions of readers to discover the great magic of poetry for generations to come.

“Poetry has no greater friend than Ruth Lilly,” said Poetry Foundation president John Barr. “Her historic gift is notable not only for its size—that part of her largesse is known to every corner of the poetry world—but also because it was made with no conditions or restrictions of any kind as to how it should be used for the benefit of poetry. In that, it was the purest expression of her love for the art that meant so much to her as poet herself, and as benefactor.”

The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine and one of the largest literary organizations in the world, 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.

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