For Immediate Release

2012 Ruth Lilly Fellowship Winners Announced

$75,000 in prizes awarded to five young poets
August 31st, 2012

CHICAGO — The Poetry Foundation and Poetry magazine are pleased to announce the five recipients of 2012 Ruth Lilly Fellowships: Reginald Dwayne Betts, Nicholas Friedman, Richie Hofmann, Rickey Laurentiis, and Jacob Saenz. Among the largest awards offered to aspiring poets in the United States, the $15,000 scholarship prize is intended to encourage the further study and writing of poetry and is open to all U.S. poets between 21 and 31 years of age.

The editors of Poetry magazine selected the winning manuscripts from more than 1,000 submissions. In announcing the winners, Poetry senior editor Don Share said, “When Harriet Monroe founded Poetry one hundred years ago, she excelled at discovering and nurturing young poets. I think she would be very pleased with the 2012 Ruth Lilly Fellows.” Editor Christian Wiman added, “The history of Poetry is filled with some of the best-known names in American poetry; my guess is that these young poets will be among those we'll be talking about in the years to come.”

Reginald Dwayne Betts was raised in Suitland, Maryland. He earned his BA from the University of Maryland and his MFA from Warren Wilson College. He is the author of a collection of poetry, Shahid Reads His Own Palm (2010), as well as a memoir, A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison (2009). Betts is also a national spokesperson for the Campaign for Youth Justice and an appointee to the Obama Administration’s Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of magazines, including the New England Review, the Normal School, Ploughshares, Poetry, and Poet Lore, among others.

Nicholas Friedman lives in Ithaca, NY, where he works as a lecturer for Cornell University.

Richie Hofmann was educated at Boston University, Emory University, and Johns Hopkins University, where he is currently pursuing an MFA in the Writing Seminars. He is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and the AWP Intro Journal Award for Poetry. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of magazines, including Cellpoems, the New Criterion, the New Yorker, and the Yale Review.

Rickey Laurentiis was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, earned his BA from Sarah Lawrence College, and is completing his MFA at Washington University in St. Louis. Laurentiis has been honored by the Cave Canem Foundation, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Callaloo, Feminist Studies, Indiana Review, jubilat,and Knockout Literary Magazine, among other publications.

Jacob Saenz was born in Chicago and raised in Cicero, Illinois. He earned his BA from Columbia College Chicago. Saenz received the Letras Latinas Residency Fellowship in 2011, currently serves as an associate editor for RHINO, and works at a library. He has published poems in Apparatus Magazine, Columbia Poetry Review, Great River Review, Poetry, RHINO, and other journals.

These five emerging voices will be featured in Poetry magazine’s November issue and on

The Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship program is organized and administered by the Poetry Foundation in Chicago, publisher of Poetry magazine. Don Share and Christina Pugh served as judges.

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About the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship Program
Established in 1989 by Ruth Lilly to encourage the further writing and study of poetry, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship program has dramatically expanded since its inception. Until 1995, university writing programs nationwide each nominated one student poet for a single fellowship; from 1996 until 2007, two fellowships were awarded. In 2008 the competition was opened to all U.S. poets between 21 and 31 years of age, and the number of fellowships increased to five, totaling $75,000.

About Poetry Magazine
Founded in Chicago by Harriet Monroe in 1912, Poetry is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world. Monroe’s “Open Door” policy, set forth in Volume 1 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 major contemporary poet. In 2011, the magazine was honored with two National Magazine Awards. It celebrates its centennial in 2012.

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

POETRY FOUNDATION | 61 West Superior Street | Chicago, IL 60654 | 312.787.7070
Media Contact: Stephanie Hlywak, 312.799.8016;

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