Yesterday U.K. poet and gardener Alice Oswald received the first Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry for her collection Weeds and Wildflowers (Faber and Faber). Last July British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy launched the new award, which comes with a five-thousand-pound prize (approximately $7,500) funded with her laureate stipend. The prize will be given annually to a living U.K. poet throughout the remainder of Duffy's ten-year term.
On this side of the pond, a cast of literary honorees was announced earlier this week by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. New Jersey poet Gerald Stern won the academy's Award of Merit Medal for Poetry, a ten-thousand-dollar prize that honors a writer's oeuvre. Tim O'Brien, author of the story collection The Things They Carried (Houghton Mifflin, 1990), won the twenty-thousand-dollar Katherine Anne Porter Award for lifetime achievement.
Daniyal Mueenuddin, who recently won the Story Prize, was recognized for his debut collection, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (Norton), with the ten-thousand-dollar Rosenthal Family Foundation Award. Debut author Josh Weil won the five-thousand-dollar Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction for his novella collection, The New Valley (Grove Press).
The academy gave $7,500 Academy Awards in Literature to poets Peter Cole, Peter Everwine, and Bruce Smith; fiction writer Steve Erickson; and translator Natasha Wimmer, who has lately received attention for her translation of 2666 and other works by Roberto Bolaño. Playwright Jean Young Lee and biographer Blake Bailey also received the prize.
British fiction writer Dan Rhodes won the E. M. Forster Award, which offers a young writer twenty thousand dollars to fund a stay in the United States, and American writers Jay Hopler, a Salt Lake City poet, and Heather McGowan, a novelist living in New York City, each received a fellowship that offers a one-year residency at the American Academy in Rome.
Poet and art critic Peter Schjeldahl was honored by the academy for the style of his prose, which has appeared in cultural forums such as the New Yorker as well as in several books, with the ten-thousand-dollar Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award.
In the video below, Hughes Award winner Alice Oswald and shortlisted poet Paul Farley join an assembly of other poets in reciting Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky," which, incidentally, Hughes included in his poetry anthology The Rattle Bag (Faber and Faber, 1982), coedited by Seamus Heaney.