Marie Ponsot Awarded 2013 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 announcement of the new Children’s Poet Laureate, at the Poetry Foundation on Monday, June 10.
“How fitting that the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, named for poetry's greatest benefactor, should this year honor Marie Ponsot, a woman who has herself made such major contributions to American poetry,” said John Barr, president of the Poetry Foundation.
Born in 1921 in New York, poet and translator Marie Ponsot has published six poetry collections, including The Bird Catcher (1998), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Her other collections include Easy (2009), Springing (2002), The Green Dark (1988), Admit Impediment (1981), and True Minds (1957). With Rosemary Deen, Ponsot co-authored a guide to teaching writing, Beat Not the Poor Desk (1982). She has translated more than 30 books into English from French for children and adults, including the titles Love & Folly: Selected Fables and Tales of La Fontaine (2002), and The Golden Book of Fairy Tales (1958).
On the occasion of announcing the winner of the 2013 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry magazine, noted Ponsot’s distinctiveness as a contemporary poet: “T.S. Eliot once said that modern poets had lost the ability to think and feel at the same time. If only he could have read Marie Ponsot! Her poems are marvels of intellectual curiosity and acuity, and they will also break your heart.”
Poetry senior editor Don Share added, “Marie Ponsot is one of the most beloved poets in the country; both her work and her life are exemplary.”
Eleven of Ponsot’s poems will be included in a portfolio in the May 2013 issue of Poetry. Ponsot first appeared in Poetry in June 1957, and her poem “Anti-Romantic,” from Poetry’s March 1958 issue, was included in Poetry’s centennial anthology, The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of Poetry Magazine (2012). She will participate in a reading celebrating the centennial anthology on Monday, April 8, at 8:15pm at the 92nd Street Y in New York, where fellow anthology contributors Frank Bidart, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Mary Karr, Atsuro Riley, and Charles Wright will read along with editors Christian Wiman and Don Share.
Ponsot has been honored with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Shaughnessy Medal of the Modern Language Association, and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Prize. She was elected as a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2010. She has taught at Beijing United University, New York University, Columbia University, and Queens College. The mother of seven children, a grandmother, and a great-grandmother, Ponsot lives in New York City.
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, David Ferry, and W.S. Di Piero.
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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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