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."