The Foundation for Contemporary Arts (FCA) in New York announced today that it has received a $1 million endowment gift from late artist Ellsworth Kelly and artist Jack Shear to establish an annual $40,000 poetry prize. Administered through the FCA’s Grants to Artists program, the new C.D. Wright Award for Poetry will recognize poets over the age of fifty whose work “exemplifies Wright’s vibrant lyricism, seriousness, and striking originality.” Poet Lisa Robertson was named the inaugural winner of the prize.
The honor was created in memory of the beloved poet, C.D. Wright, who passed away in 2016 at the age of sixty-seven. Wright was a professor of literary arts at Brown University, where she served on the faculty from 1983 until her death, and a founder of the book press Lost Roads Publishers, which she started with her husband, poet Forrest Gander. She is also the author of numerous books including Just Whistle, 1993; Like Something Flying Backwards: New and Selected Poems, 2003; and Rising, Falling, Hovering, 2008.
Originally from Canada, Robertson is an experimental poet who is now based in France. Commenting on her work, poets Tonya Foster and Peter Gizzi, the 2018 poetry advisors to the FCA, said, “Lisa has found a form, a force, a method, and a voice distinctly and brilliantly her own. She does this by massing language that is at once percussive and rhythmic, archaic in its feel but deploying an utterly contemporary diction and mood. Her poems are compelling reads and never stint on intellection. They please as they muse and weave various affective philosophical speech acts.” Robertson is the author of XEclogue (New Star Books, 1993); Debbie: An Epic (New Star Books, 1997), which was shortlisted for the 1998 Governor General’s Award for Poetry in Canada; and The Weather (New Star Books, 2001).