Kudos to my managing editor Alice Pope for sending along the following press release from the Poetry Foundation:
CHICAGO — Poet Gary Snyder is the winner of the 2008 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Established in 1986 and presented annually by the Poetry Foundation, the award is one of the most prestigious given to American poets, and at $100,000 it is one of the nation’s largest literary awards. Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry magazine and chair of the selection committee, made the announcement today. The prize will be presented at an evening ceremony at the Arts Club of Chicago on Thursday, May 29.
In announcing the award, Wiman said: “Gary Snyder is in essence a contemporary devotional poet, though he is not devoted to any one god or way of being so much as to Being itself. His poetry is a testament to the sacredness of the natural world and our relation to it, and a prophecy of what we stand to lose if we forget that relation.”
Raised in the
The judges issued the following statement in making the selection: “Gary Snyder is a true nature poet: there’s no sentimentalism to his work, and he never uses the natural world simply to celebrate his own sensibility. A deeply learned and meditative artist, an impassioned ecologist, and a poet of great scope as well as intense focus, Snyder has written poems that we will be reading for as long as we’ve been reading Robert Frost.”
“The selection of Gary Snyder as this year’s winner of the Lilly Prize does honor to the tradition of excellence and importance that the prize has stood for since it was established over 20 years ago,” said John Barr, president of the Poetry Foundation.
Snyder is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, essays, and translations. His poetry collections include Riprap and
A committed environmental activist who has received the John Hay Award for Nature Writing, Snyder has also been recognized for his contributions to the theory and practice of Buddhism. His many honors include the Pulitzer Prize in 1975 for
Snyder was born on May 8, 1930, in
Judges for the 2008 prize were poets Eavan Boland, Sandra M. Gilbert, and Christian Wiman.
A grizzled black-eyed rabbit showed me
irrigation ditches, open paved highway,
to the hill.
bell chill blue jewel sky
Banner clouds flying,
The mountains all gathered,
juniper trees on the flanks
the snug bark scale
in thin powder snow
over rock scrabble, pricklers, boulders,
pines and junipers,
The trees all singing.
The mountains are singing
To gather the sky and the mist
to bring it down snow-breath
and gather it water
Sent from the singing peaks
flanks and folds
Down arroyos and ditches by highways the water
The people to use it, the
mountains and juniper
Do it for men,
Said the rabbit.
First published in Poetry, March 1968. © Gary Snyder
About the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize
American poetry has no greater friend than Ruth Lilly. Over many years and in many ways, it has been blessed by her personal generosity. In 1985 she endowed the Ruth Lilly Professorship in Poetry at
The Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize honors a living