CHICAGO, Aug. 25, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The Poetry Foundation announces Marilyn Chin as the winner of the 2020 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, Saskia Hamilton as winner of the 2020 Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism, and the extension of Naomi Shihab Nye's tenure as Young People's Poet Laureate. The awards are sponsored and administered by the Poetry Foundation, an independent literary organization and publisher of Poetry magazine, and will be presented at a virtual awards ceremony on September 21, with a recording available following the event.
"Marilyn Chin and Saskia Hamilton have made invaluable contributions to literature through their work as poets, scholars, and educators," said Kate Coughlin, chief financial officer of the Poetry Foundation. "Their shared commitment to craft and interrogation creates art that is deeply human; it is an honor to recognize their extraordinary accomplishments."
Marilyn Chin Receives Lifetime Achievement Award
The Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize annually honors a living US poet with an award of $100,000 in recognition of their outstanding lifetime achievement. It is one of the most prestigious awards given to American poets and one of the nation's largest literary prizes.
Chin's accomplishments in poetry, already impressive, are accompanied by achievements in the fields of fiction, translation, and education. Her work, noted for its direct style, distills her experiences as an Asian American and feminist. She is one of the most distinctive and innovative poets, and she has been a pioneer in rewriting—and reconceiving—the canons of American poetry using her visionary gifts of revision, translation, activism, and sheer joyousness.
Chin is the author of five collections of poetry, including A Portrait of the Self as Nation: New and Selected Poems, one novel, two works of translation, and has edited two anthologies.
Her awards include an Anisfield Wolf Book Award, a PEN/Josephine Miles Award, and fellowships from the United Artist Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute, the Rockefeller Foundation, Stanford University, and Fulbright. In 2019, the Academy of American Arts and Letters awarded Chin an Arts and Letters Awards in Literature.
Chin codirected the MFA program at San Diego State University, where she is professor emerita in the departments of English and Comparative Literature. She currently serves as a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
First awarded in 1986 to Adrienne Rich, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize has been awarded to poets including Philip Levine, Lucille Clifton, Donald Hall, Joy Harjo, Martín Espada, and most recently Marilyn Nelson.
Saskia Hamilton Honored for Two Works of Criticism
The $7,500 Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism prize annually honors the best book-length works of criticism published in the prior calendar year; the award recognizes biographies, essay collections, and critical editions that consider the subject of poetry or poets.
Hamilton's deft editing and expertise are apparent in her two books, The Dolphin Letters, 1970–1979: Elizabeth Hardwick, Robert Lowell, and Their Circle and The Dolphin: Two Versions, 1972-1973 Robert Lowell, paints an unparalleled picture of the last years of Lowell's life. The Dolphin Letters travels through the correspondence between Hardwick and Lowell, on which Lowell's controversial poem "The Dolphin" is based. Two Versions revisits the poem at length, and includes scans of the original manuscript, giving readers a new understanding of the Pulitzer Prize winning piece.
The author of four poetry collections, most recently Corridor, Hamilton has also edited or coedited four works of scholarship on Robert Lowell, including the winning books.
Hamilton is a professor and the vice provost for academic programs and curriculum at Barnard College.
Previous Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism winners include Liesl Olson's Chicago Renaissance and The Poems of T.S. Eliot edited by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue,and most recently Terrance Hayes's To Float in the Space Between: A Life and Work in Conversation with the Life and Work of Etheridge Knight.
The 2020 Criticism finalists include Radical as Reality: Form and Freedom in American Poetry by Peter Campion, Animal by Dorothea Lasky, and The Long Public Life of a Short American Poem: Reading and Remembering Thomas Wyatt by Peter Murphy.
Naomi Shihab Nye's Tenure Extended
The Poetry Foundation will extend the tenure of current Young People's Poet Laureate, Naomi Shihab Nye, to 2022. Nye was awarded the honor and two-year term in 2019, but has had to cancel a number of her readings and programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic; the extension of her tenure allows for new initiatives to take the place of those that were cancelled, and for Nye to maintain her commitment to celebrating poetry in geographically underserved and rural communities.
The Young People's Poet Laureate title and $25,000 prize celebrate a living writer in recognition of their devotion to writing exceptional poetry for young readers. This laureateship promotes poetry to children and their families, teachers, and librarians.
About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in American culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs.