Friday, May 19, 2006

Finally come to their senses

Poetry, that is. Naming Richard Wilbur the recipient of the Ruth Lilly Prize.

I thought they'd never wake up and smell the poetry. This is a poet whose body of work is really worthy of a $100,000 prize. Whatever you think of it, his Collected, which I got last year, shows a mature talent that spans many years and fads and has weathered it all with grace.

It seems odd to me that the magazine is so blandified -- so all-poems-as-written-by-one-person -- and the Ruth Lilly Prize shows more breadth of understanding of the vast diversity of American poetry.

Christian Wiman, the majordomo now at Poetry, said of the award:

"If you had to put all your money on one living poet whose work will be read in a hundred years, Richard Wilbur would be a good bet. He has written some of the most memorable poems of our time, and his achievement rivals that of great American poets like Robert Frost and Elizabeth Bishop."

Amen.

2 comments:

  1. Rachel,
    I'll admit I've not been impressed by Richard Wilbur's work. This may owe much to my not having read much of it. (I made a tiny effort years ago.) If perchance there exists online any example you would be apt to recommend per se, I'd be game to try anew. (If, that is, he's a poet regarding whom one can point to some poem in particular.)

    They've shown some good sense (by my lights) in honoring poets such as Merwin and Ashbery with that high prize. I might be someone who can't "get" Wilber; or I could be someone who merely hasn't yet. I suspect it may be a case of the former more than the latter, but your profess admiration for the chap gives pause.

    cheers,
    d.i.

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  2. ps -- in the Poetry Foundation announcement about Wilber here, they include (as exemple of his work) the short poem "A Barred Owl." I must admit it's a fine poem -- and helps dispose me to look at more. ;-)

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