New York, May 25, 2005—The Academy of American Poets is pleased to announce that Mary Rose O’Reilley has won the 2005 Walt Whitman Award for her first book-length collection of poems, Half Wild, which will be published in the spring of 2006 by Louisiana State University Press. The winning manuscript was chosen by Mary Oliver from over 1250 entries in an open competition. The Academy of American Poets has awarded Ms. O’Reilley a $5,000 cash prize and will purchase copies of her book for distribution to its members. She will also receive a one-month residency at the Vermont Studio Center. Finalists for the prize were Simeon Berry, Allen Braden, Carol Ann Davis, Richard Hilles, Bryan Narendorf, David Roderick, Young Smith, Matthew Yurdana and Deborah Zerden.
On selecting Ms. O’Reilley’s manuscript for the award, Mary Oliver wrote:
[O’Reilley’s is] a style that celebrates life and dignifies sorrow, that includes the drifter; the Japanese print; deer in the woods; herons in the wetland grass; a lost child recovered but, it could be, forever half wild; and especially, for it is a continuing presence in this book, that mystery we call the soul. That part of us that is of another world, come perhaps to instruct us in this one.
Mary Rose O’Reilley was born in Pampa, Texas, educated in the parochial school system of Roseville and St. Paul, Minnesota. She graduated from the College of St. Catherine and completed graduate work at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. Her recent awards include a Contemplative Studies Grant from the American Council of Learned Societies, a Bush Artist Grant, and the McKnight Award of Distinction. She is the author of the non-fiction book The Barn at the End of the World (Milkweed Editions). Since 1978 she has taught English and environmental studies at St. Thomas College. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Mary Oliver was born in 1935 in Maple Heights, Ohio. She is the author of several volumes of poetry, most recently Why I Wake Early (Beacon Press, 2004). Her books of prose include Long Life: Essays and Other Writings (2004); Rules for the Dance: A Handbook for Writing and Reading Metrical Verse (1998); Blue Pastures (1995); and A Poetry Handbook (1994). Her honors include an American Academy of Arts & Letters Award, a Lannan Literary Award, the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Prize and Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Mary Oliver holds the Catharine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching at Bennington College, and lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and Bennington, Vermont.
Established in 1935, Louisiana State University Press is one of the oldest and largest university presses in the South and one of the outstanding publishers of scholarly and regional books in the country. Its long-standing commitment to publishing fine contemporary poetry extends back more than four decades. Since 1964 the Press has published more than 250 books of poetry by more than 100 poets, and many of these volumes have received distinguished honors, including the Lamont Poetry Selection, the National Book Critics’ Circle Award, the Poets’ Prize, the American Book Award, the National Book Award, and two Pulitzer Prizes.
The Vermont Studio Center offers four-to-twelve-week studio Residencies year-round to mid-career poets, painters, sculptors, printmakers, photographers, and writers. The setting is the banks of the Gihon river in rural Johnson, Vermont, a town of 2,500 located in the heart of the northern Green Mountains. Each Studio Center Residency features abundant working time, the companionship of fifty artists and writers from across the country and around the world, and access to a roster of prominent Visiting Artists and Writers. All Residencies include comfortable housing, private studio space, and superb food. Two Visiting Writers per month are in residence at the Studio Center for one week each to offer readings, a craft talk, and optional conferences with each of the twelve writing Residents.
The Academy of American Poets was founded in 1934 to support American poets at all stages of their careers and to foster the appreciation of contemporary poetry. Through its awards program, the Academy awards well over $200,000 each year to individual poets. These awards include the Academy Fellowship, the Wallace Stevens Award, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the James Laughlin Award, the Walt Whitman Award, the Raiziss/de Palchi Translation Award, the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award, student poetry prizes at nearly 200 colleges and universities, and the American Poets Fund. The Academy also administers National Poetry Month (April), the Online Poetry Classroom, an the Poetry Audio Archive, and Poets.org, our award-winning website.