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CGU announces winners of 2012 Kingsley and Kate Tufts Poetry Awards: Timothy Donnelly and Katherine Larson

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Claremont Graduate University (CGU) is pleased to announce that Timothy Donnelly of Brooklyn, New York, has won the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for his book The Cloud Corporation (Wave, Picador). The award, given annually to a mid-career poet, is one of the largest monetary poetry prizes in the United States.

Katherine Larson, a research scientist and field ecologist from Tucson, Arizona, has won the $10,000 Kate Tufts Discovery Award for her book of poetry, Radial Symmetry (Yale University Press). The Kate Tufts Discovery Award is given annually for a first book by a poet of genuine promise.

Wendy Martin, director of the Tufts Poetry Award program and vice provost of CGU, observed that in the 20th Anniversary year of the Kingsley Tufts awards “these poets carry forward a tradition marked by distinguished past winners including Robert Wrigley, Tom Sleigh, Matthea Harvey, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Chase Twichell.  CGU is proud to be able to make these important awards.” 

Photo of Timothy Donnelly, winner of the 2012 Kingsley Tufts Poetry AwardThe Cloud Corporation is Donnelly’s second book. His first, Twenty-seven Props for a Production of Eine Lebenszeit (Grove), was published in 2003. His poems have been widely anthologized and translated, and they have appeared in such periodicals as A Public Space, Fence, Harper’s, The Iowa Review, jubilat, Lana Turner, the Nation, the New Republic, and the Paris Review.

This spring he is the Theodore H. Holmes ’51 and Bernice Holmes Visiting Associate Professor at Princeton University’s Program in Creative Writing and Lewis Center for the Arts. He has been poetry editor of the Boston Review since 1996 and is on the faculty of the Writing Program at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two daughters.

"I’m among the many people in this country who have had to go into significant debt just to get by," Donnelly said of the seven difficult and sleep-deprived years he spent writing The Cloud Corporation. "All the anxiety in the book about the economy and the struggle to make ends meet isn’t just for effect—it’s all very personal. This prize will give my family and me a measure of financial stability that would otherwise have taken a decade or more to achieve.  But as true as all that is, it’s the honor of having had The Cloud Corporation chosen for this distinction that I really can’t wrap my head around."

Photo of Katherine Larson, winner of the 2012 Kate Tufts Discovery AwardLarson’s Radial Symmetry, was selected by well-known poet Louise Glück as winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets and published by Yale University Press in 2011. In addition to the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, her work has been honored by a Ruth Lilly Fellowship and the Union League Civic and Arts Foundation Poetry Prize. She has spent the last decade working as a molecular biologist and field ecologist. She lives in Arizona with her husband and daughter.

"My husband and I worked so hard to budget for a babysitter just so I could have a few hours a week to write," she said. "This award allows me to continue my work. You have no idea what a gift that is."

The Kingsley Tufts award, now in its 20th year, was established at Claremont Graduate University by Kate Tufts to honor the memory of her husband, who held executive positions in the Los Angeles Shipyards and wrote poetry as his avocation. The award is presented for a work by a poet who is past the very beginning but has not yet reached the pinnacle of his or her career.

The Kate Tufts Discovery Award was initiated in 1993 and is presented annually for a first book by a poet of genuine promise.

"The Kingsley and Kate Tufts Poetry Awards are among the most important prizes in all of the arts, and they lift our spirits year after year," Claremont Graduate University President Deborah Freund said. “My most heartfelt congratulations go out to Timothy and Katherine for their extraordinary books. It will be an honor to host these wonderful and creative talents when they visit our campus this spring."

A ceremony for this year's winners will be held at Garrison Theater, 231 E. 10th Street, at 5 p.m. on April 19. Author Maxine Hong Kingston will give special remarks.

Finalists for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award were Ed Roberson for his book To See the Earth Before the End of the World (Wesleyan University Press) and Christian Wiman for his book Every Riven Thing (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

Finalists for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award were Shane McCrae for his book Mule (Cleveland State University Poetry Center) and Julie Hanson for her book Unbeknownst (University of Iowa Press).

"We hope these awards will give a crucial injection of encouragement to the poets of America," said Linda Gregerson, chair of the judging panel. "We expect of these poets thrilling work in the years to come."

The distinguished panel of final judges for the awards were: Linda Gregerson, poet, professor of English language and literature at the University of Michigan, and past Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award recipient; David Barber, poet, poetry editor of the Atlantic Monthly; Kate Gale, poet, novelist, managing editor of Red Hen Press; Ted Genoways, award-winning poet and editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review; Carl Phillips, poet, professor of English and African and Afro-American studies at Washington University in St. Louis,  chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and past Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award recipient.

The panel of preliminary judges included: Jericho Brown, poet, assistant professor of English at the University of San Diego; Andrew Feld, poet, editor of the Seattle Review, and assistant professor of English and creative writing at the University of Washington; Suji Kwock Kim, poet and playwright, assistant professor of English and Asian American studies at University of Massachusetts, Boston.

About Claremont Graduate University

Founded in 1925, Claremont Graduate University is one of the top graduate schools in the United States. Our nine academic schools conduct leading-edge research and award masters and doctoral degrees in 24 disciplines. Because the world’s problems are not simple nor easily defined, diverse faculty and students research and study across the traditional discipline boundaries to create new and practical solutions for the major problems plaguing our world. A Southern California based graduate school devoted entirely to graduate research and study, CGU boasts a low student-to-faculty ratio.


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