Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize Is Suspended

The Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize, which nurtured the careers of more than two dozen poets since the first award was given in 1983 (when judge Anthony Hecht chose Susan Donnelly's Eve Names the Animals), has been suspended. "There's little to say," replied series editor Guy Rotella when asked for details. "The economics no longer work."

The annual prize, sponsored by Northeastern University in Boston, offered a thousand dollars and publication by Northeasterm University Press with distribution through the University Press of New England, for a first or second book of poems.

The most recent winner is Lisa Gluskin, whose collection Tulips, Water, Ash was selected by judge Jean Valentine earlier this year. The book is scheduled to be published in September. Previous winners include Carl Phillips (In the Blood, 1992), Allison Funk (Living at the Epicenter, 1995), Jennifer Atkinson (The Drowned City, 2000), Ted Genoways (Bullroarer, 2001), and Roy Jacobstein (A Form of Optimism, 2006). Past judges included Maxine Kumin, X.J. Kennedy, Donald Hall, Mary Oliver, Peter Davison, Charles Simic, Rachel Hadas, A. R. Ammons, David Ferry, Sonia Sanchez, Molly Peacock, Edward Hirsch, Carolyn Kizer, Alfred Corn, Marilyn Hacker, Rosanna Warren, Ellen Bryant Voigt, Eric Pankey, Lucia Perillo, Charles Harper Webb, and Rodney Jones.

For the first twenty-one years of the award, the winning books retained the series' signature design. Below are a few of the covers from the earlier period, Genoways's Bullroarer, Robert Cording's The Actual Moon, the Actual Stars, and Dana Roeser's Beautiful Motion, followed by the most recently published—and, as it turns out, repeat—winner, Roeser's In the Truth Room.

cover of Bullroarer  cover of The Actual Moon, the Actual Stars  cover of beautiful motion  cover of In the Truth Room

 

Pacific Rim Voices Restructuring Kiriyama Prize

Around this time each year, Pacific Rim Voices, sponsor of the thirty-thousand-dollar Kiriyama Prizes, would announce the winners of the annual awards for books of fiction and nonfiction that encourage "greater understanding of and among the nations of the Pacific Rim and South Asia." But about six months ago the San Francisco-based nonprofit announced instead that the award program would be restructured. "While this process is under way, publishers are kindly asked not to submit further entries," the Web site states. "When a new time line and new rules are in place, entries will once again be welcome." So, we wait.

In the meantime, here's a list of the past winners of the prizes. Note that during the first three years of the prize, there was only one winner—in fiction or nonfiction.

2008
Fiction: Lloyd Jones for Mister Pip
Nonfiction: Julia Whitty for The Fragile Edge: Diving and Other Adventures in the South Pacific

2007
Haruki Murakami for Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (translated by Phillip Gabriel and Jay Rubin)
Greg Mortensen and David Oliver Relin for Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time

2006
Luis Alberto Urrea for The Hummingbird's Daughter
Piers Vitebsky for The Reindeer People

2005
Nadeem Aslam for Maps for Lost Lovers
Suketu Mehta for Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

2004
Shan Sa for The Girl Who Played Go
Inga Clendinnen for Dancing With Strangers

2002
Rohinton Mistry for Family Matters
Pascap Khoo Thwe for From the Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey

2001
Patricia Grace for Dogside Story
Peter Hessler for River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze

2000
Michael Ondaatje for Anil's Ghost
Michael David Kwan for Things That Must Not Be Forgotten: A Childhood in Wartime China

1999
Cheng Ch'ing-wen for Three-Legged Horse (various translators)
Andrew X. Pham for Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Journey through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam

1998
Fiction: Ruth L. Ozeki for My Year of Meats

1997
Nonfiction: Patrick Smith for Japan: A Reinterpretation

1996
Fiction: Alan Brown for Audrey Hepburn's Neck

And, in case you're wondering which countries consitute the Pacific Rim, here's a map from the organization's Web site:

Pacific Rim countries

Fanny Howe, Ange Mlinko Win Big From the Poetry Foundation

The Poetry Foundation, the Chicago-based publisher of Poetry magazine, announced today that Fanny Howe and Ange Mlinko are the recipients of two of its Pegasus Awards, a "family" of annual prizes sponsored by the organization. Howe was named winner of the 2009 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, worth a hundred thousand dollars, and Mlinko won the ten-thousand-dollar Randall Jarrell Award in Poetry Criticism. 

The Lilly Prize, named after the Poetry Foundation's best friend in the whole wide world, is given annually to a U.S. poet "whose lifetime accomplishments warrant extraordinary recognition." Previous recipients include Adrienne Rich, Philip Levine, John Ashbery, Charles Wright, Yusef Komunyakaa, Lucille Clifton, and Gary Snyder. Howe, the author of thirteen books of poetry, recently published a memoir, The Winter Sun: Notes on a Vocation (Graywolf Press, 2009), in which she wrote, "Since early adolescence I have wanted to live the life of a poet."

In announcing the prize, Poetry editor Christian Wiman said, "Fanny Howe is a religious writer whose work makes you more alert and alive to the earth, an experimental writer who can break your heart."

Mlinko is the third recipient of the Randall Jarrell Award, which is awarded for "poetry criticism that is intelligent and learned as well as lively and enjoyable to read." She is the author of two books of poetry, Matinees (Zoland Books, 1999) and Starred Wire (Coffee House Press, 2005). The Poetry Foundation praised her criticism as "brilliantly wide-ranging" and "eclectic and astringent yet always lucid and generous." 

If you're unfamiliar with Howe, yet curious about the work of a poet who receives a cash prize with five zeroes attached to it, check out the video below, produced last year by the University of California Television and the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego.

 

USPS Honors Richard Wright With Stamp

by Staff
4.10.09

The United States Postal Service unveiled a first-class stamp yesterday honoring American author and former postal employee Richard Wright. The dedication took place in the lobby of the Chicago Main Post Office, just across the street from the building where the author of Native Son once worked as a letter sorter. 

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