Ben Doyle Wins 2000 Walt Whitman Award

Iowa Writer's Workshop grad wins$5,000 in cash, publication of his first book, and one-month residency at the Vermont Studio Center.
The Academy of American Poets is pleased to announce that Ben Doyle has won the 2000 Walt Whitman Award for his first book-length collection of poems, Radio, Radio, which will be published by Louisiana State University Press in the spring of 2001. The winning manuscript was chosen by Susan Howe from more than 1,200 entries in an open competition. The Academy of American Poets has awarded Mr. Doyle a $5,000 cash prize and will purchase at least 7,000 copies of his book for distribution to its members. He will also receive a one-month residency at the Vermont Studio Center. The four other finalists were Amy Quan Barry, Stephen McLeod, Eleni Sikelianos, and Andrew Zawacki.

Ben Doyle was born in Warsaw, New York in 1973. He completed his undergraduate education at the State University of New York at Oswego and West Virginia University. In May 2000, he received his MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he was awarded a Teaching-Writing Fellowship. His poems are forthcoming in Colorado Review and Fence.

Susan Howe is the author of several books of poems and two volumes of criticism. Her most recent poetry collections are Pierce-Arrow (New Directions, 1999), Frame Structures: Early Poems 1974-1979, The Nonconformist's Memorial, The Europe of Trusts: Selected Poems, and Singularities. She has received two American Book Awards from the Before Columbus Foundation, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and has been a distinguished fellow at the Stanford Institute of the Humanities. Since 1989 she has been a professor of English at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and was elected a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets in 2000.

On selecting Mr. Doyle's manuscript, Radio, Radio, Ms. Howe wrote:

Referring to the last section of "The Bridge," Hart Crane wrote to a friend: "it hangs somewhere in ether like an Absalom by his hair." In his first collection of bleakly ecstatic poems, Ben Doyle assumes the Absalom position. One hundred years after Crane's birth, the "whispered rush--telepathy of wires" has become a global information superhighway with webpages, security footage, laser-targeting, and missiles. But through their associative power, words are always discovering, coinciding, defining, subverting, and Doyle strikingly connects a world of surveillance with one of poetics. These poems are rebellious, dangerous, ironic, unstable, and deliberate...they brilliantly articulate the paradoxical, anticlimactic inconsistencies of our postmodern American landscape where, no matter what, "the news nine trafficopter hides overhead like a tricky god."

The Walt Whitman Award, established in 1975, makes possible the publication of a poet's first full-length collection. The competition is judged by a distinguished poet, and the winning manuscript is published by a prominent literary publishing house. This year marks the ninth year that Louisiana State University Press has agreed to publish the winner of the Walt Whitman Award. Established in 1935, LSU Press is one of the largest university presses in the South and one of the outstanding scholarly publishers in the country. The press has a long-standing commitment to publishing high-quality contemporary poetry. Many volumes in the LSU Press poetry series have received distinguished honors, including four Lamont Poetry Selections, an American Book Award, and a Pulitzer Prize.

The contest for the Walt Whitman Award is open to any citizen of the United States who has neither published nor committed to publish a book of poetry 40 pages or more in length in an edition of 500 or more copies. Book-length manuscripts (50 to 100 pages) may be submitted to the Academy between September 15 and November 15 of each year. An entry form and fee are required. For guidelines and an entry form, visit the Academy of American Poets website.

The Academy was founded in 1934 to support American poets at all stages of their careers and to foster the appreciation of contemporary poetry. The largest organization in the country dedicated specifically to the art of poetry, the Academy sponsors programs nationally. These include the Academy Fellowship, the Tanning Prize, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the James Laughlin Award, the Walt Whitman Award, the Raiziss/de Palchi Translation Award, the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award, poetry prizes at 170 colleges and universities, a national series of poetry readings and poets' residencies, and the American Poets Fund, which provides emergency financial assistance to poets. The Academy also sponsors National Poetry Month (April), an annual celebration of the richness and vitality of American poetry; the Poetry Book Club, the only book club of its kind in the United States; and the Online Poetry Classroom, an educational resource and online teaching community for high school teachers. Additionally, the Academy maintains one of the liveliest and most comprehensive poetry sites on the Internet, at www.poets.org.


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