New York, September 26—Poet Carl Phillips has been selected as the recipient of the 2006 Academy Fellowship, given in memory of James Ingram Merrill. The Fellowship is awarded once a year to a poet for distinguished poetic achievement at mid-career and provides a stipend of $25,000. Fellows are elected by the Academy’s Board of Chancellors, a body of fifteen eminent poets.
Of Carl Phillips’s work, Academy Chancellor Ellen Bryant Voigt wrote:
It might be said that all memorable poems explore or enact what it means to be human. Carl Phillips’s work does both, looking steadily at his abiding subject—the complexities of intimacy and isolation—in sentences majestic and muscular, in lines taut and musical, and in language vivid and exact. These are indelible poems, and the voice in them entirely his own.
For almost a decade, Phillips taught Greek and Latin to high school students in and around Boston. Classical prose writers such as Thucydides, Cicero, and Tacitus, as well as the Greek tragedians were early influences on his work. Phillips writes that they taught him "a great deal about compression when conveying psychological and emotional crisis." Phillips’s work reflects a faith in the way a sentence can move over lines to lead readers to charged moments of intense insight and amazing beauty.
Phillips admits that he "came very late to modern/contemporary poetry," and it was when he was in his thirties that he began to publish his work. Since then, his collections have been recognized for their emotional engagement with the timeless subjects of desire, loss, and myth, yet also their very contemporary sense of how we speak in the world.
Carl Phillips was born in 1959. He is the author of numerous books of poetry, most recently Quiver of Arrows: Selected Poems 1986–2006 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007) and Riding Westward (2006). His collection The Rest of Love (2004) won the Theodore Roethke Memorial Foundation Poetry Prize and the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Male Poetry, and was a finalist for the National Book Award.
His other books include: Rock Harbor (2002); The Tether (2001), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; Pastoral (2000), winner of the Lambda Literary Award; From the Devotions (1998), finalist for the National Book Award; Cortége (1995), finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and In the Blood (1992), winner of the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize. Phillips is the author of a book of prose, Coin of the Realm: Essays on the Art and Life of Poetry (2004). He translated Sophocles’s Philoctetes (Oxford University Press, 2003).
Phillips's honors include an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Pushcart Prize, induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Library of Congress. He received a B.A. in Classics from Harvard University and an M.A.T. in Classical Humanities from U. Mass/Amherst. He later went on to receive an M.A. in creative writing from Boston University. Phillips is a professor of English and of African and Afro-American studies at Washington University in St. Louis, where he also teaches in the creative writing program.
Phillips will read from his work at the Academy of American Poets Awards Ceremony & Reading on November 8, 2006. This event is held in New York City and is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.poets.org/calendar.
About the Award
The Academy of American Poets established its Fellowship in 1937. It was the very first cash award given annually to an American poet. Former fellows include E. E. Cummings, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore, Robert Hayden, and more recently Gwendolyn Brooks, Lyn Hejinian, Adrienne Rich, Denise Levertov, Jay Wright, Charles Simic, and Claudia Rankine. Fellows are nominated and elected by the Academy’s Board of Chancellors. The current Chancellors are Frank Bidart, Rita Dove, Robert Hass, Susan Howe, Galway Kinnell, Philip Levine, Nathaniel Mackey, Robert Pinsky, Kay Ryan, Gary Snyder, Gerald Stern, Susan Stewart, James Tate, Ellen Bryant Voigt, and C.K. Williams.
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.