Michael Palmer Receives the Wallace Stevens Award

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Sep 05 2006

New York, September 5—Michael Palmer has been selected as the recipient of the 2006 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets. The $100,000 prize recognizes outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry. The judges for the award were poets Robert Hass, Fanny Howe, Susan Stewart, Arthur Sze, and Dean Young. Robert Hass, on selecting Palmer to receive the award, wrote:

Michael Palmer is the foremost experimental poet of his generation and perhaps of the last several generations. A gorgeous writer who has taken cues from Wallace Stevens, the Black Mountain poets, John Ashbery, contemporary French poets, the poetics of Octavio Paz, and from language poetries. He is one of the most original craftsmen at work in English at the present time. His poetry is at once a dark and comic interrogation of the possibilities of representation in language, but its continuing surprise is its resourcefulness and its sheer beauty.

Michael Palmer was born in New York City in 1943 and has lived in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He is the author of numerous books of poetry, including Company of Moths (New Directions, 2005), which was short-listed for the Canadian Griffin Poetry Prize; Codes Appearing: Poems 1979–1988 (2001); The Promises of Glass (2000); The Lion Bridge: Selected Poems 1972–1995 (1998); At Passages (1996); Sun (1988); First Figure (1984); Notes for Echo Lake (1981); Without Music (1977); The Circular Gates (1974); and Blake's Newton (1972). He is also the author of a prose work, The Danish Notebook (Avec Books, 1999).

Palmer's work, which is both alluringly lyrical and intensely avant-garde, has inspired a wide range of poets working today. Palmer draws on many disparate poetic traditions to create a new voice, a voice that has opened up ways to write out of the confines of specific schools of poetry.

Palmer has brought his powers for synthesis to his collaborations with artists in several mediums. For over 30 years he has collaborated with the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, and he created the text for their piece "Danger Orange." Visual artists he has collaborated with include Gerhard Richter, Micaëla Henich, Sandro Chia, Jess Collins, and Augusta Talbot. Palmer has also translated work from French, Russian and Portuguese. He edited and contributed translations to Nothing The Sun Could Not Explain: Twenty Contemporary Brazilian Poets (Sun & Moon Press, 1997), and Blue Vitriol (Avec Books, 1994), a collection of poetry by Alexei Parshchikov. He also translated Theory of Tables (1994), a book written by Emmanuel Hocquard, a project that grew out of Hocquard's translations of Palmer's "Baudelaire Series" into French.

Palmer's honors include two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writer's Award, a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, and the Shelley Memorial Prize from the Poetry Society of America. In 1999, he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Palmer will be the featured speaker at the Academy of American Poets Award Ceremony & Reading on November 8, 2006. This event, held in New York City and open to the public, will provide those on the East Coast a rare opportunity to hear a poet who has shaped American poetry for decades. For more information, visit www.poets.org/calendar.

About the Award
The Wallace Stevens Award is given annually by the Academy of American Poets to recognize outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry. Established in 1994, the award carries a stipend of $100,000. The previous recipients are W. S. Merwin, James Tate, Adrienne Rich, Anthony Hecht, A. R. Ammons, Jackson Mac Low, Frank Bidart, John Ashbery, Ruth Stone, Richard Wilbur, Mark Strand, and Gerald Stern. Wallace Stevens, one of the major American poets of the twentieth century, was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, in 1879. After attending Harvard University, he received a law degree from New York Law School, and worked as a corporate lawyer at the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company from 1916 until his death in 1955. Harmonium, his first collection of poems, was published in 1923, but it was only very late in his life, after the publication of The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens (1954), that his work began to receive broad attention and critical acclaim.

About the Academy of American Poets
The Academy of American Poets is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1934 to foster appreciation for contemporary poetry and to support American poets at all stages of their careers. For over three generations, the Academy has connected millions of people to great poetry through programs such as National Poetry Month, the largest literary celebration in the world; Poets.org, the most popular site about poetry on the web, presenting a wealth of great poems, audio recordings, poet biographies, essays, and interactive discussions about poetry; the Poetry Audio Archive, capturing the voices of contemporary American poets for generations to come; American Poet, a biannual literary journal; and our annual series of poetry readings and special events. The Academy also awards prizes to accomplished poets at all stages of their careers—from hundreds of student prizes at colleges nationwide to the Wallace Stevens Award for lifetime achievement in the art of poetry. For more information, visit www.poets.org.