BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Carl Dennis, professor of English in the
University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences, has been named
winner of the 2000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, one of the most
prestigious literary awards in the English language.
The prize is awarded by Poetry Magazine, which for 90 years has
been one of the most important forums for contemporary poetry in
the United States. The Lilly carries a cash award of $100,000,
making it one of the largest awards made to American poets. It will
be presented at a luncheon ceremony June 2 in the Newberry Library
Dennis' selection was announced by Joseph Parisi, editor of the
magazine and chair of the selection committee
In announcing the award, Parisi said: "Carl Dennis is a poet who
has valuable things to say -- about faith (or its absence) in the
modern world, fear, loneliness, life's regrets -- the great
what-ifs and roads not taken -- in ways that are personal and
universal at the same time.
"His acute observations about the private and public realms
reach beyond mere 'statement' or cliché to subtle levels of
informed art. Dennis constantly surprises with the turnings of his
agile mind, catching readers slightly (and happily) off-balance
with perceptions delivered with disarming humor, irony, and
Dennis joined the UB faculty in 1966. He is the author of seven
critically acclaimed collections of poetry, the latest of which is
"Ranking the Wishes," published by Penguin in 1997.
Dennis is no stranger to recognition in his field. His previous
awards and distinctions include fellowships from the Guggenheim
Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts and an artistic
residency at the Rockefeller Study Center in Bellagio, Italy.
His work has been selected for such prestigious anthologies as
the "Puschart Anthology," "The Bread Loaf Anthology of Poetry" and
Scribner's "The Best American Poetry" series. Poetry Magazine
presented him with the Oscar Blumenthal Prize in 1989, the Bess
Hokin Prize in 1995 and the J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize
Dennis was born in St. Louis in 1939, and attended Oberlin
College, the University of Chicago, and the University of Minnesota
before receiving his doctorate from the University of California at
Berkeley in 1966.
His first book, "A House of My Own," was published by George
Braziller in 1974 and was followed by six more acclaimed volumes:
"Climbing Down" (Braziller, 1976), "Signs and Wonders" (Princeton
University Press, 1979), "The Near World" (William Morrow, 1985),
"The Outskirts of Troy" (William Morrow, 1988), "Meetings with
Time" (Viking Penguin, 1992) and "Ranking the Wishes."
A new collection of poems, "Practical Gods," will be published
by Penguin this year and in 2001, the University of Georgia Press
will publish Dennis' first book of literary criticism, "Poetry as
Persuasion, an Essay for Writers."
His work areas of teaching at UB are American poetry, the
American renaissance, creative writing and Greek and Roman
literature in translation.
In addition to his appointment at UB, Dennis teaches in the
non-residency master's program in creative writing at Warren Wilson