Awarded annually, the $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize honors a living U.S. poet whose lifetime accomplishments warrant extraordinary recognition. Established in 1986 by Ruth Lilly, the Prize is one of the most prestigious awards given to American poets and is one of the largest literary honors for work in the English language. 1986 Adrienne Rich1987 Philip Levine1988 Anthony Hecht1989 Mona Van Duyn1990 Hayden Carruth1991 David Wagoner1992 John Ashbery1993 Charles Wright1994 Donald Hall1995 A.R. Ammons1996 Gerald Stern1997 William Matthews1998 W.S. Merwin1999 Maxine Kumin2000 Carl Dennis2001 Yusef Komunyakaa2002 Lisel Mueller2003 Linda Pastan2004 Kay Ryan2005 C.K. Williams2006 Richard Wilbur2007 Lucille Clifton2008 Gary Snyder2009 Fanny Howe2010 Eleanor Ross Taylor2011 David Ferry 2012 W. S. Di Piero
W.S. Di Piero: Poet, essayist, and translator, W.S. Di Piero was born in South Philadelphia in 1945 and grew up in an Italian working class neighborhood. Di Piero’s honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Ingram Merrill Foundation, a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund award, and the first Raiziss/de Palchi Book Prize for Italian translation from the Academy of American Poets. He lives in San Francisco.
BY W. S. DI PIERO
How often now, raging weeping for the days
love gives then takes away, takes from you
the slightly chapped hand laid on the one
you’re pointing at a tree, and the voice
that breathes coffeeberry bush into your mouth.
The finger that taps and feathers your ear
but the giggle’s gone before you turn around.
The sandalwood scent hanging in the room,
the auburn strand like a flaw in the porcelain,
the off-course nail clipping in the carpet.
The days eat into your stomach, knife you
with longing for relief from love
that you cannot leave or leave alone,
from its rings of fire where you won’t
burn down to ash or be transformed.
You become them, and they keep burning
and have a coffeeberry voice.
their rhymes sing
the little deaths you live.
2011 RecipientDavid Ferry was born in Orange, New Jersey in 1924. He is the author of six books of poems and the translator of Gilgamesh, the Odes and Epistles of Horace, and the Eclogues and Georgics of Virgil, and is at work on a translation of the Aeneid. He is the Sophie Chantal Hart Professor Emeritus of English at Wellesley College and also teaches at Suffolk University. In 2011, he was awarded the $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement. Other awards include the Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry from the Library of Congress, the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award, and he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1998.NarcissusThere’s the one about the man who went into A telephone booth on the street and called himself up, And nobody answered, because he wasn’t home, So how could he possibly have answered the phone? The night went on and on and on and on. The telephone rang and rang and nobody answered.And there’s the one about the man who wentInto the telephone booth and called himself up,And right away he answered, and so they hadA good long heart-to-heart far into the night.The sides of the phone booth glittered and shone in the light Of the streetlight light as the night went echoing on.Out in the wild hills of suburban New Jersey,Up there above South Orange and Maplewood,The surface of a lonely pond iced over,Under the avid breath of the winter wind,And the snow drifted across it and settled down,So at last you couldn’t tell that there was a pond.
2010 RecipientEleanor Ross Taylor was born in 1920 in Norwood, North Carolina, and graduated from Women’s College, now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, in 1942. While studying at Vanderbilt University, Caroline and Allen Tate introduced her to novelist Peter Taylor, whom she would marry in 1943.Her poetry has been described as elegiac, lyric and feminine. Since her first publication, Wilderness of Ladies in 1960, Taylor published five collections of poetry: Welcome Eumenides(1972), New and Selected Poems (1983), Days Going/Days Coming Back (1991), Late Leisure (1999), and Captive Voices: New and Selected Poems (2009), which have earned her critical acclaim and several awards. Of her work, Adrienne Rich has said, “speak of the underground life of women, the Southern white Protestant woman in particular, the woman-writer, the woman in the family, coping, hoarding, preserving, observing, keeping up appearances, seeing through the myths and hypocrisies, nursing the sick, conspiring with sister- women, possessed of a will to survive and to see others survive.” Disappearing
the soul doesn’t leave the body.
body is leaving my soul.
of turning fried chicken and
to muscle and excrement,
of secreting tears, wiping them,
of opening eyes on another day,
especially of that fleshy heart,