Release Date: April 21, 2000
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 in Chicago.
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 understatement."
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 in 1997.
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 College.