’Tis the season for award announcements and prize citations, and we’re delighted to announced several recent winners and acknowledge their achievements.
We begin with an award close to home: the Gordon J. Laing Prize, which is awarded annually by the University of Chicago Press (since 1963) to the faculty author, editor, or translator of a book published in the previous three years that brings the Press the greatest distinction. This year, we honor Robert J. Richards for The Tragic Sense of Life: Ernst Haeckel and the Struggle over Evolutionary Thought.
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Yesterday afternoon, the Poetry Foundation announced their 2011 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize winner: David Ferry, our own Phoenix Poet and author of three collections published by the University of Chicago Press. The Lilly Poetry Prize is presented annually to a living American poet whose lifetime accomplishments “warrant extraordinary recognition.” No small award, this: at $100,000, it is one of the nation’s largest and most coveted literary prizes. With all of that in mind, we extend our warmest congratulations to Professor Ferry on this remarkable achievement.
From Poetry editor Christian Wiman’s Lilly Prize citation:
“David Ferry is probably best known as a translator—and his achievements in that regard are extraordinary—but I think in the end it will be his poems that last,” said Wiman. “In a time when most poetry relies on intense surface energy, Ferry’s effects are muted and subterranean—but then, in their cumulative effect, seismic. For 50 years he has practiced poetry as if it truly matters to our lives and to our souls—and now his poems have that rare power to wake us up to both.”
We celebrate David Ferry as the author of Dwelling Places: Poems and Translations, Of No Country I Know: New and . . .
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“Strange indeed are the places that give birth to the ideas that later, for better or worse, find physical form as books. I first encountered my subject lying on my back in a dentist’s chair. In an effort to distract the minds of those undergoing treatment, the dentist in question had attached a large photographic poster to the ceiling depicting the earth at night, seen from space. It is to the distant yet familiar world that his patients cast their eyes, sometimes blurred by tears, sometimes pre-naturally sharpened by the effort of ignoring their discomfort. What they learn is that much of the planet we inhabit no longer experiences ‘night’ as it was once understood.”
So James Attlee begins Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight, his meditation on the sublunar landscape and all things lux illuminata. Praised by Dominique Browning in the New York Times Book Review as “an inspiration,” Nocturne left our critic commenting, “It makes you want to pull a chair out into the garden and bathe in the moonlight. No questions asked.”
Jonathan Messinger, of Time Out Chicago, championed Attlee’s occasionally gruff yet wildly wondering prose as that of “our kind of codger,” while the . . .
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