Former Winners of the Bollingen Prize for Poetry at Yale Celebrate the Award

Many of the nation’s most acclaimed poets will participate in poetry readings and public discussions at Yale University on September 19-20 in celebration of the coveted Bollingen Prize for Poetry, administered by Yale library’s Collection of American Literature.

Among the most prestigious prizes available to American writers, the Bollingen Prize in Poetry has been a force in shaping contemporary American letters since it was established more than 50 years ago. Early Bollingen Prize winners-Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore and E.E. Cummings, to name a few-are widely considered to be writers whose work defined a new American literature of the 20th century. The more recent winners, who will be participating in the celebration, represent a stylistic diversity that will profoundly influence the future of American poetry.

On Thursday, September 19, past Bollingen winners John Ashbery, Robert Creeley, Louise Glück, Anthony Hecht, John Hollander, Stanley Kunitz, W.S. Merwin, Gary Snyder, Mark Strand and Richard Wilbur will read from their works. The public readings will be held at First Church of Christ in New Haven (Center Church on the Green), 311 Temple Street, at 8 p.m.

On Friday, two panel discussions will take place between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at the Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall Street. In the first, moderated by Yale professor Langdon Hammer, panelists Glück, Creeley, Ashbery, Kunitz and Strand will discuss “American Traditions in Poetry.”

In the second panel, moderated by the poet and librettist J.D. McClatchy, Wilbur, Hecht, Hollander, Merwin and Snyder will discuss “The Craft of Poetry Today.”

Named for Carl Jung’s home in Switzerland, the Bollingen Prize was established in 1948 by Paul Mellon. It is awarded every two years for the best volume of poetry published in those years or for a poet’s lifetime achievement.

The poets, editors, critics and teachers who have awarded and received the Bollingen Prize are at the root of its distinguished history. The list of judges, made up of Yale faculty members and previous Bollingen winners, includes such acclaimed writers and arbiters of the art of poetry as Robert Penn Warren, W. H. Auden, Katherine Anne Porter, Muriel Rukeyser, Robert Lowell, Adrienne Rich, Louis L. Martz, Marie Borroff, Joseph Parisi, McClatchy and Harold Bloom.

Throughout its history, the Bollingen Prize for Poetry has recognized the very best in American poetry. From its controversial beginnings in 1948, when Ezra Pound received the reward for his “The Pisan Cantos” (which he had written while incarcerated on charges of treason), the Bollingen Prize has honored poets whose work continues to define modern American literature.

In addition to those Bollingen Prize winners already mentioned, some of the other outstanding laureates are John Crowe Ransom, Archibald MacLeish, W. H. Auden, Louise Bogan, Conrad Aiken, Allen Tate, Theodore Roethke, Delmore Schwartz, Robert Frost, Robert Penn Warren, John Berryman, Mona Van Duyn, James Merrill, John Hollander and Donald Justice. For a complete list of Bollingen recipients, see

Titled “Yale, A Place for Poetry,” the forthcoming event is sponsored by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library and the Whitney Humanities Center.

For more information, contact Nancy Kuhl at 203-432-2966 or via e-mail at

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Dorie Baker:, 203-432-1345