Marie Ponsot Wins Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize

The Poetry Foundation has announced that poet and translator Marie Ponsot will receive the 2013 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, one of the most prestigious prizes given to American poets. Given for lifetime achievement, the award carries with it a $100,000 purse. 

Born in New York City, where she still resides, Ponsot, ninety-one, joins poets John Ashbery, Lucille Clifton, Yusef Komunyakaa, Philip Levine, and Adrienne Rich on the roster of Ruth Lilly winners. W. S. di Piero took the 2012 prize. Ponsot’s work—which often tackles and challenges traditional forms such as the vilanelle and sestina—includes the collections Springing, The Green Dark, True Minds, The Bird Catcher (which won the 1998 National Book Critics Circle Award), and, most recently, Easy (Knopf, 2009). She has also translated more than thirty books into English from the French.

Given annually since 1986, the Ruth Lilly Prize is one of the largest monetary prizes given for poetry in the world. As part of the award, Poetry magazine will publish eleven of Ponsot’s poems in its May issue. Christian Wiman, the magazine’s editor, described Ponsot’s poems as “marvels of intellectual curiosity and acuity” that “will also break your heart.” She will participate in a celebratory reading on April 8 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City.

Last fall, the Poetry Foundation also named the recipients of the 2012 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowships, the $15,000 awards given annually to five emerging U.S. poets between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-one.