Robert Creeley on Jackson Mac Low
Jackson Mac Low was the recipient of the 1999 Wallace Stevens Award. The $100,000 award recognizes outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry. The jurors for this year's prize were Frank Bidart, Robert Creeley, Sharon Olds, Marjorie Perloff, and John Yau. Robert Creeley served as chair of the panel. He wrote the following citation.
Jackson Mac Low is a poet of great heart and abiding faith. His poetry has long been recognized as the most defining of American experimentalism, both with respect to text and to performance. It is the genius of his art to make poetry again enactment, to make its materials--words and syntax, and all the human echoes each must carry--a resonating, perceptive pattern reaching far beyond the enclosure of imagined subjects or intent. Patient, enduring, selfless, he has made substance of our language in ways that reveal its own initiating authority, proving its sounds a song, its progress a transforming revelation.
The poets our jury considered were a significant range from all character of background and practice, professional commitment and cultural circumstance. It is the great virtue of our country's poetry that it is plural, poetries, rather than an abiding, singular hierarchy or one settled condition of practice. In awarding the prize to Jackson Mac Low, we sought to honor not only a great master of the art in its most inventive and resourceful character, but to recall also that American poetry itself defines such a tradition as he exemplifies, fosters insistently the experimental, seeks always to expand the parameters of its activity and relationships.