March 19, 2007
Poet Laureate Selects Whitworth's Laurie Lamon as 2007 Witter Bynner Fellow
Poet Laureate Donald Hall has chosen two new voices in poetry, Whitworth Associate Professor of English Laurie Lamon and newspaperman David Tucker, to receive 2007 Witter Bynner Fellowships. Hall will award the prizes to Lamon and Tucker on Thursday, March 29, at the Library of Congress. The two poets will read from their works during the award ceremony. Each will receive $10,000 fellowships provided by the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry in conjunction with the Library of Congress. After the fete, Lamon will be interviewed by Grace Cavalieri, producer and host of "The Poet and the Poem," a weekly series distributed from the Library of Congress via National Public Radio satellite.
(Note: To listen to Lamon's interview, visit The Poet and the Poem. The artist interviews are listed alphabetically by last name.)
Lamon and Tucker "are as different as the two giants of American poetry in the 19th century – Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson," Hall says.
Lamon takes a philosophical and innovative approach to her work. Her carefully wrought poems draw on close observation of the natural world. She is concerned with the relationship between being and nature, and being and the consciousness of time.
"Laurie is an exquisite writer of lyrics, writing a musical poetry that is delicate and pure," Hall says.
Lamon, a Whitworth alumna, is the author of the poetry collection The Fork Without Hunger (CavanKerry Press, 2005). She received an Artist Trust/Washington State Arts Commission Fellowship in 2005, and a Graves Award in the Humanities in 2002, which allowed her a paid release from teaching to conduct research for a Poetry of Witness course. Lamon was awarded a Pushcart Prize in 2001 for her poem, "Pain Thinks of the Beautiful Table."
"I was completely surprised by the notification of the award," Lamon says. "It is an honor for which I am most grateful to Mr. Hall and to the Witter Bynner Foundation. The Library of Congress is an iconic institution for me, and the thought of reading my poetry there is quite a bit to take in."
Lamon's work has appeared in the The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, Ploughshares and other magazines and reviews. She earned a master's degree in 1982 from the University of Montana and a doctorate in English literature in 1988 from the University of Utah.
Tucker, a graduate of the University of Michigan, studied poetry with Robert Hayden. His collection Late for Work (2006) won a Bakeless Prize from the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference. Tucker has worked for 28 years at leading newspapers. He is a member of the New Jersey Star-Ledger team that won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news.
This is the 10th year the Witter Bynner fellowships have been awarded. During the past decade, the Witter Bynner Foundation has provided funds that enable the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to award two or more fellowships to poets of distinction, as a way to encourage poets and poetry, according to Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.
The Witter Bynner fellowships are to be used to support the writing of poetry. Two things are asked of the fellows: that they organize a reading in their hometown and participate in a reading and recording session at the Library of Congress. Applications are not taken for the fellowships; the Poet Laureate makes the selection. For more information on Witter Bynner fellowships and the poetry program at the Library of Congress, visit www.loc.gov/poetry.
The Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry was incorporated in 1972, in New Mexico, to provide grant support for programs in poetry through nonprofit organizations. Witter Bynner was an influential early-20th-century poet and translator of the Chinese classic Tao Te Ching. He traveled with D.H. and Frieda Lawrence and proposed to Edna St. Vincent Millay (she accepted, but then they changed their minds). He worked at McClure's Magazine, where he published A.E. Housman for the first time in the U.S.
Previous Witter Bynner fellows are Joseph Stroud and Connie Wanek (2006), and Claudia Emerson and Martin Walls (2005), appointed by Ted Kooser; Dana Levin and Spencer Reece (2004), appointed by Louise Gluck; Major Jackson and Rebecca Wee (2003), and George Bilgere and Katia Kapovich (2002), appointed by Billy Collins; the late Tory Dent and Nick Flynn (2001), appointed by Stanley Kunitz; Naomi Shihab Nye and Joshua Weiner (2000), David Gewanter, Heather McHugh and Campbell McGrath (1999), and Carol Muske-Dukes and Carl Phillips (1998), all appointed by Robert Pinsky.
Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college, which has an enrollment of 2,500 students, offers 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Laurie Lamon, associate professor of English, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patricia Gray, Poetry and Literature Center, Library of Congress, (202) 707-1308 or email@example.com.
Donna Urschel, public affairs specialist, Library of Congress Public Affairs Office (202) 707-1639 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julie Riddle, public information officer, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or email@example.com.