Susan Howe, the English Department’s Distinguished Visiting Writer for 2010-11, was awarded the prestigious Bollingen Prize in American Poetry at Yale University. Previous recipients include Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore and Adrienne Rich. Two of Howe’s most influential books, Singularities (poetry) and The Birthmark (essays), were published by Wesleyan University Press.
Of Howe’s most recent book, the three-member judging committee said: “Susan Howe is a fierce elegist. That This, prompted by the sudden death of the poet’s husband, makes manifest the raw edges of elegy through the collision of verse and prose, visionary lyricism and mundane incident, ekphrasis, visual patterning, and the reclamation of historical documents. The book culminates in a set of luminous and starkly condensed lyrics moving increasingly toward silence.”
Born in 1937 in Boston, Massachusetts, Susan Howe is the author of numerous previous volumes of poetry, including The Midnight (2003), Kidnapped (2002), Pierce-Arrow (1999), Frame Structures: Early Poems 1974-1979 (1996), The Nonconformist’s Memorial (1993), The Europe of Trusts: Selected Poems (1990), and Singularities (1990). Howe is also the author of two books of criticism: The Birth-Mark: Unsettling the Wilderness in American Literary History (1993), named “International Book of the Year” by the Times Literary Supplement, and My Emily Dickinson (1985). She was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1999 and a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets in 2000; she has been a fellow at The American Academy in Berlin and a distinguished fellow at the Stanford Institute of the Humanities. Howe held the Samuel P. Capen Chair of Poetry and the Humanities at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and has recently taught at Princeton, University of Chicago, University of Utah, as well as Wesleyan.
The Bollingen Prize in American Poetry, established by Paul Mellon in 1949, is awarded biennially by the Yale University Library to an American poet for the best book published during the previous two years or for lifetime achievement in poetry.