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.
“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 Selected Poems and Translations, and Strangers: A Book of Poems, each of which have been published under the Phoenix Poets imprint. The emeritus Sophie Chantal Hart Professor of English at Wellesley College, Ferry is a visiting lecturer in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at Boston University, as well as a distinguished visiting scholar at Suffolk University. He has previously been awarded numerous awards and fellowships, throughout his notable career, including a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets, the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry from the Library of Congress, and an Academy Award for Literature form the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
The Phoenix Poets series was inaugurated in 1982 by University of Chicago poetry and poetics professor Robert von Hallberg, and by 1983, had begun to publish an often eclectic and always erudite selection of American and UK-based poets. Books in the series have garnered almost every major poetry prize, including the National Book Critics Circle Award, the William Carlos Williams Award, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the Kingsley Tufts Award, the Rome Prize, and others. Now helmed by acquiring editor Randolph Petilos and an anonymous board of editors, Phoenix Poets continues onward into a new century of formal ingenuity, depth of thought, quality of language, and poetic possibility.
Over at Scribd, we’ve curated a collection of Phoenix Poets titles, all available in ebook format (and discounted in celebration of National Poetry Month). Have a look and consider downloading a title or two, with a bit of praise from Philip Levine in mind:
“For the past several years, the University of Chicago has been publishing some of the finest books by the younger American poets. No other press, in New York or anywhere, is doing any better. In fact, I can’t think of one that’s done as well.”