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Maynard wins poetry award

From left: James Maynard, Don Share, Robert Polito and Peter Quartermain

James Maynard (far left) accepted the Pegasus Award at a ceremony on June 9 in Chicago. With Maynard are, from right, co-award winner Peter Quartermain, Poetry Foundation president Robert Polito and Poetry magazine editor Don Share. Photo: Gerber Scarpelli

By SUE WUETCHER

Published May 22, 2014

A compilation of the work of 20th-century American poet Robert Duncan edited by UB scholar James Maynard has won the inaugural Pegasus Award for Criticism from the Chicago-based Poetry Foundation.

The prize was awarded jointly to “Robert Duncan: Collected Essays and Other Prose,” edited by Maynard, associate curator of UB Poetry Collection, and “Robert Duncan: The Collected Later Poems and Plays,” edited by British Columbia-based poet, critic and publisher Peter Quartermain. Both books were published by the University of California Press as part of its Collected Writings of Robert Duncan Series.

Book cover for “Robert Duncan: Collected Essays and Other Prose”

In announcing the award winners, the Poetry Foundation noted that the two editions “represent a major achievement in textual scholarship, bringing together Duncan’s authoritative texts and unpublished works. The result is an extraordinary look into the development and evolution of Duncan’s distinct and groundbreaking poetics. Editors Peter Quartermain and James Maynard deftly navigate Duncan’s textual complexities while providing extensive notes, annotations and commentaries on Duncan’s career and works.

The Pegasus Award, a major new American prize in poetry criticism, honors the best book-length work of criticism published in the prior calendar year, including biographies, essay collections and critical editions that consider the subject of poetry or poets.

Robert Duncan (1919-1988) was a key figure in 20th-century American poetics associated with several of its most prominent groupings and aesthetics, from his early study at Black Mountain College, to his contributions to Donald Allen’s The New American Poetry, and long-term involvement in what came to be known as the San Francisco Renaissance.

His manuscripts are owned by the UB Poetry Collection.

Maynard received his PhD in English from UB in 2007 for his dissertation, “Architect of Excess: Robert Duncan and the American Pragmatist Sublime.” He is the second Duncan scholar with UB connections in recent years to win or be nominated for such a major award.

Buffalo-area native Lisa Jarnot, who did her undergraduate work at UB, was a finalist for last year’s National Book Critics Circle Award in biography for “Robert Duncan, The Ambassador from Venus,” also published in the University of California Press’s Collected Writings of Robert Duncan Series.

The shortlist of finalists for the Pegasus Award also included another prominent book co-edited by a Buffalo-based scholar. D’Youville College professor and UB alumna Marta Werner (also a PhD in English) was nominated for the award for “The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope Poems,” published by New Directions Books.