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Kay Ryan Wins "Genius" Fellowship

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A blog from: Poets & Writers Magazine

Posted by Prize Reporter on 9.20.11

This year's MacArthur Foundation Fellows, commonly referred to as recipients of the organization's "Genius" grant, have been announced. Among a class of fellows that includes a virologist, a cellist, an architect, a lawyer for elder rights, an evolutionary geneticist, and a silversmith, poet Kay Ryan is honored for her "deceptively simple verse of wisdom and elegance."

Ryan, who from 2008 to 2009 served as the sixteenth U.S. poet laureate, will receive the five-hundred-thousand-dollar prize, designed to encourage continued work, but with "no strings attached," over the next five years. Author of seven collections, she was honored earlier this year with the Pulitzer Prize for her latest book, The Best of It: New and Selected Poems (Grove Press, 2010).

Translator and poet A. E. Stallings, whose work is influenced by her training in classical Greek and Latin, also received the fellowship. Currently living in Athens, Stallings is recognized for "revealing the timelessness of poetic expression and antiquity's relevance for today." Aside from her translations of Plutarch, Lucretius, and other classical writers, her original works include Hapax (2006) and Archaic Smile (1999). A new poetry collection, Olives, is forthcoming in 2012 from TriQuarterly Books. 

For biographies of and interviews with the 2011 fellows, who range in age from twenty-nine to sixty-seven and represent ten states, plus Washington, D.C., Greece, and British Columbia, visit the MacArthur website.

In the video below, Ryan describes the impact of the MacArthur grant, especially for a writer at sixty-five, and where she is in her work, "always just beginning."

Reader Comments

  • jolenaholt says...

    I agree Kay Ryan is a Genius and deserves the MacArthur Foundation Fellows (just as much as some of those other fellows). Kay Ryan a poet from a working class background who worked for years as a low paid teacher in a college and whose focus is/was students struggling with remedial English. She is not a high paid academic, she is  a midlife woman, who despite the odds became a Genius in her own right.  

  • 7438 says...

    While I am delighted to see Kay Ryan honored with a MacArthur "genius" grant, I am puzzled as to why your headline reads "Kay Ryan Wins 'Genius' Fellowship."  Two very talented poets, not just one, won "genius" fellowships this year.  Buried in the third paragraph of your story is the news that poet and translator A. E. Stallings was also a recipient.  I sincerely hope that you will correct the headline and the lead paragraph accordingly.

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