Muldoon and Williams Among New Members of American Academy of Arts and Letters

by Staff

Poet Paul Muldoon and fiction writer Joy Williams were recently inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an honor given to "those who have reached the highest level of artistic achievement." Muldoon is the poetry editor of the New Yorker as well as Howard G. B. Clark '21 Professor and chair of the Peter B. Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University. His most recent collection is Horse Latitudes (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006). Williams's most recent book is the story collection Honored Guest (Knopf, 2004). Her last novel, The Quick and the Dead (Knopf, 2000), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2001.

Critics Kwame Anthony Appiah and Stephen Greenblatt, biographer Robert A. Caro, and journalist Calvin Trillin were also named members in literature. The inductees will be celebrated at a ceremony in New York City on May 21, along with the winners of this year's literary awards.

Academy Awards in Literature went to poets Dan Chiasson and Fanny Howe, fiction writers Rikki Ducornet and Mona Simpson, creative nonfiction writers Brian Doyle and Richard Nelson, and translator Edith Grossman. Each received seventy-five hundred dollars.

Prizes of twenty thousand dollars each were given to two emerging writers and two established in their craft. The young writers being honored are poet A. E. Stallings, who won the Benjamin H. Danks Award, and fiction writer John Lanchester, who received the E. M. Forster Award. Hayden Carruth won the Arthur Rense Prize, awarded to "an exceptional poet" and fiction writer John Edgar Wideman received the Katherine Anne Porter Award given "to a prose writer for achievement and dedication."

Prizes of ten thousand dollars each were given to fiction writers Ben Marcus, the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award winner for progressive or experimental literature, and Maxine Swann, who received the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award for her novel Flower Children (Riverhead, 2007). Frances Hwang won the Sue Kaufman Prize for her debut short story collection Transparency (Back Bay Books, 2007) and Richard Lange received the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award for his short story collection Dead Boys (Little, Brown, 2007). The Michael Braude Award for Light Verse went to Christopher Reid. Hwang, Lange, and Reid each received five thousand dollars.

This year's Rome Fellowships, given to young writers for a year of residence at the American Academy in Rome, went to fiction writers Brad Kessler and Dana Spiotta.

The American Academy of Arts and Letters was established in 1898 to "foster, assist and sustain an interest in literature, music, and the fine arts. In addition to presenting exhibitions of work and supporting readings and performances, the New York City-based organization awards nearly one million dollars annually to writers and other artists.