The Poetry Foundation announced today that Alice Notley has won the 2015 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. The annual award of $100,000 honors the outstanding lifetime achievement of a living U.S. poet.
With a career spanning more than four decades, Notley, sixty-nine, is the author of twenty-five books of poetry, including The Descent of Alette (Penguin, 1996); Mysteries of Small Houses (Penguin, 1998), which received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Disobedience (Penguin, 2001), which won the Griffin International Poetry Prize; and Grave of Light: New and Selected Poems 1970-2005 (Wesleyan, 2006), which was awarded the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Notley’s other honors and awards include the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Award, an Arts and Letters Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Foundation of Contemporary Arts grant. Later this year, Notley will publish two new poetry collections: Certain Magical Acts and Benediction.
Poetry magazine editor Don Share said of Notley’s work, “Like Whitman, she is simultaneously one of a kind and a poet for each of us: an exemplary, humane, and ultimately essential writer.” Robert Polito, the president of the Poetry Foundation, added, “Book by surprising book, [Notley] reinvents not only herself as a poet, but also what it means for anyone to write a poem at this volatile moment in our history.”
Established in 1986 by Ruth Lilly and sponsored by the Poetry Foundation, the prize is one of the most prestigious American poetry awards and among the largest literary honors for English language works. Adrienne Rich won the inaugural award, and recent winners include Nathaniel Mackey, Marie Ponsot, and W. S. Di Piero.
Notley and the winner of the Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism will be honored at a ceremony in Chicago on June 8. The Poetry Foundation will announce the winner of the Pegasus Award later this month.