April 17, 2017

Media Celebrates Tufts Poetry Milestone as L.A. Ceremony Approaches

Tufts Awards graphic

The month of April, writes Professor Lori Anne Ferrell in a commentary piece in the Los Angeles Times, offers us “30 days in which to contemplate anew why this particular art of words holds a place in the collective heart that is unrivaled.”

In addition to being National Poetry Month, this April also marks the 25th anniversary of the Kingsley & Kate Tufts Poetry Awards, which will be presented Thursday, April 20, at the Los Angeles Public Library to this year’s recipients, Vievee Francis and Phillip B. Williams. Ferrell considers this an ideal highpoint for the university as well as for National Poetry Month.

“At my university we celebrate the month in grand style. We give out two generous poetry awards,” Ferrell writes in her Times op-ed piece.

Poetry offers a respite, Ferrell continues: “For us, these awards at least begin to ensure that, the status of federal funding for the arts and humanities notwithstanding, works of great American poetry will outlast their moment. They give us the chance to recognize poetry at a time when language is being applied roughly and recklessly in public forums across media and the nation, when complicated arguments and crude insults have been reduced to 140-character parodies of the elegant concision and keen insights poetry is known for.”

Francis, the author of Forest Primeval, has been chosen for the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Award, which recognizes a mid-career poet. For his volume Thief in the Interior, Williams has been chosen for the $10,000 Kate Tufts Discovery Award, which honors an emerging poet of promise. In their works, each poet embarks on a bold, vibrant exploration of race and identity in America. (More information on the winners.)

Ferrell, who serves as the Tufts awards director, also told the Los Angeles Daily News that the Tufts awards “become a snapshot of where this culture is at this exact moment.”

This double coverage—in the pages of the Times and the Daily News—kicked off a busy week of poetry.

In addition to Thursday’s ceremony in Los Angeles, this week’s events include a reading on the CGU campus April 19 with Don Share, Elena Karina Byrne, and Brian Kim Stefans—all accomplished poets. The three also served as members of the final judging committee for this year’s Tufts awards.

On April 21, a Kingsley & Kate Tufts Poetry Marathon will be held at The Claremont Colleges’ Honnold Library. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information on this year’s Tufts celebrations and events, visit the Kingsley & Kate Tufts Poetry website.