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Charles Wright Wins $150,000 Bollingen Prize for His Poetry
Sunday, January 27, 2013

Charles Wright, professor emeritus of the English department’s Creative Writing Program in the University of Virginia’s College of Arts & Sciences, has won the 2013 Bollingen Prize for American Poetry. Wright taught at U.Va. for almost 30 years, retiring in 2011, and is one of America’s most celebrated poets.

The Bollingen Prize in American Poetry is among the most prestigious prizes given to American writers. Established by Paul Mellon in 1949, it is awarded biennially by the Yale University Library to an American poet for the best book published during the previous two years or for lifetime achievement in poetry. The prize includes a cash award of $150,000.

The judges awarded Wright the Bollingen Prize for his 2011 book, “Bye-and-Bye: Selected Late Poems,” describing it as “an extended meditation in which we sense ‘splinters of the divine’ in the phenomena and cyclic changes of the natural world, and in the elusive reaches of memory, myth, and history.”

“A poet of remarkable scope and ambition, Wright’s lyrics are like verbal scroll paintings, considering a vast landscape but exploring every aspect in exquisite detail, a stylistic combination that properly figures both the significance and insignificance of the human,” the three-member judging committee noted. “In poems that render the poignancy of moving time, the constancy of the landscape, and the mystery of the invisible, Wright binds the secular and the sacred in language charged with urgency and grace.”

While stationed in Italy during four years of service in the U.S. Army, Wright discovered the work of Ezra Pound and began to write poetry for the first time. His first collection of poems, “The Grave of the Right Hand,” was published in 1970.

Wright said he was delighted to have won the award. “I always fantasized about winning the Bollingen Prize because it's the only prize Pound ever won,” he said. 

Wright’s recent books include “Outtakes” (2010); “Sestets: Poems” (2009); “Littlefoot: A Poem” (2008); “Scar Tissue” (2007); “The Wrong End of the Rainbow” (2005); and “Buffalo Yoga” (2004). His two volumes of criticism are: “Halflife” (1988) and “Quarter Notes” (1995). He has translated the work of Italian poets Dino Campana and Eugenio Montale.

Wright, the Souder Family Professor Emeritus of English, has received numerous awards during his career, including the National Book Award, the PEN Translation Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Griffin Prize, the American Book Award in Poetry, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award.

The Bollingen Prize has honored the literary accomplishments of poets whose work continues to be a force in shaping contemporary American letters. Early Bollingen Prize winners –Pound, Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore and e.e. cummings – are widely considered writers whose work defined a new American literature of the 20th century. More recent winners – John Ashbery, Robert Creeley, Louise Glück, John Hollander, Gary Snyder, Jay Wright and Adrienne Rich – represent “exciting stylistic diversity in American writing,” note the prize organizers.

This year’s judges were poet Susan Howe; poet, critic and editor Geoffrey O’Brien; and literary scholar and cultural critic Joan Richardson.

# # #

After it’s over, after the last gaze has shut down,
        Will I have become
        The landscape I’ve looked at and walked through
        Or the road that took me there
                                                        or the time it took to arrive?

            — excerpt from “Sprung Narratives” by Charles Wright

UVA’s Rita Dove Speaks at The Peace Ball in Washington January 20
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Rita Dove was one of numerous luminaries to briefly speak at The Peace Ball on January 20, 2013, one of Washington, DC’s more creative big parties over the weekend to celebrate the presidential inauguration. The Peace Ball: Voices of Hope and Resistance took place in Washington DC’s historic Arena Stage at The Meade Center For American Theater.  This event paid tribute to the continuing struggle for peace and justice here in the United States and throughout the world.  After a few initial comments, Dove entertained the large crowd by reading two of her poems particularly well suited to the event, “Umoja” and “Lady Freedom Among Us.” (Watch the reading here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiYenuchOAg)
 
Joining Dove, other artists, activists, speakers and organizations participating in the evening’s comments, musical entertainment, dancing, and other festivities were: Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!), noted journalist Katrina vanden Heuvel (The Nation), TransAfrica, The National Council of Negro Women, Institute for Policy Studies, The Pacifica Foundation, Progressive Democrats of America, Julian Bond, Alice Walker, Sonia Sanchez, Dick Gregory, Marian Wright Edelman, Farai Chideya, Ralph Nader, Van Jones, Dave Zirin, Etan Thomas, Barbara Ehrenreich, Medea Benjamin (Code Pink), Danny Glover, Rev. Lennox Yearwood (Hip Hop Caucus), and Zainab Salbi (Women for Women International), among many others. Musical performances were by Mos Def and Sweet Honey in the Rock.
 
Four years ago hundreds of peace loving activists gathered at the first Inaugural Peace Ball in Washington, DC to celebrate the election of the first African American President of the United States and to wave the banner of peace during that historic moment.  The times are different today, but the commitment to ensure that peace and justice remain on our national agenda has not wavered.
 
Rita Dove is a former U.S. Poet Laureate and currently Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia where she teaches poetry writing.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Yesterday, the announcement about Professor Spearing's new book, Medieval Autographies was posted on UVA Today.

 http://news.virginia.edu/content/shelf-anthony-c-spearing

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The winter special issue of the Cortland Review focuses on UVA poet Gregory Orr's work, including a video interview and visit to his home. The issue features poets associated with Orr and includes work from our very own Charles Wright, Paul Guest, Debra Nystrom, and Lisa Spaar, as well as an advance review of his new book from Norton, RIVER INSIDE THE RIVER, by UVA PhD David Rigsbee.

Winter Feature: Gregory Orr
http://cortlandreview.com/features/12/winter/

Here’'s an excerpt from the Rigsbee review:
Excerpts from an advance review of RIVER INSIDE THE RIVER: (Norton, June 2013):

“Orr knows that tragedy befalls us because we live in time, and in writing poems, he is able to make images that reference the timeless, when ugly consequences do not follow from a moment's surrender. Yet in that imagination of timelessness, he knows we can only find temporary respite; hence, a paradox: we fall into history where the monsters are, but our poems rescue us by showing us images of the timeless. It is in our works that we are forgiven, and so the process works.”

“A striking meditation on art's free-standing place in the natural world and of the feeling of rightness, of restitution, even resurrection—not of bodies, but of the sense of having been justified and hence forgiven by the thing that we do, this art.”

“Orr, by now a veteran pilgrim of the great wound-like void that separates immanence and transcendence, knows that theme-and-variation isn't just a method: it is itself an ancient and approved pilgrimage, and gathers to itself a richness over time. Indeed, repetition is the earth's way of knocking on eternity's door: to repeat is to resist, and in that resistance lies the image of a timeless wish: Adam and Eve "Making the holy human city,/ Making the wholly human city"—a way of putting it that is as true as it is unfashionable.”

David Rigsbee, The Cortland Review

UVA Today article on Paul Cantor's new book
Friday, December 7, 2012

Check out this great Q & A interview in UVA Today about Paul Cantor's new book: http://news.virginia.edu/content/paul-cantor-s-new-book-finds-literary-value-popular-culture.

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