January 25, 2006 2006 Witter Bynner Fellows Joseph Stroud and Connie Wanek to Read on Feb. 16
Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Jennifer Rutland (202) 707-5394/5
Noted poets Joseph Stroud and Connie Wanek, the 2006 Witter Bynner Fellows in Poetry, will read at the Library of Congress at 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 16, in the Mumford Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C.
Poet Laureate Ted Kooser, who selected Stroud and Wanek for the $10,000 poetry fellowships, will introduce the poets. The event is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are required.
The Witter Bynner Foundation in New Mexico, in conjunction with the Library of Congress, granted the awards to help support the fellows in the writing of poetry. In return, the fellows are asked to organize a local poetry reading (this year, in California and in Minnesota, respectively) and to participate in a poetry reading at the Library of Congress.
Stroud, who lives in Santa Cruz, Calif., and at Shay Creek in the Sierra Nevada mountains, had taught writing and literature classes at Cabrillo College for 35 years and co-hosted KUSP’s “Poetry Show.” He is the author of four books of poetry, including “Below Cold Mountain” (1998) and “Country of Light” (2004). His work embraces a variety of forms, from short-line lyric to prose poem, and a variety of topics, including landscapes, hard travel and commonplace objects.
Wanek was born in 1952 in Madison, Wis., and lived on a farm near Green Bay until the early 1960s, when her family moved to Las Cruces, N.M., in the Mesilla Valley. Since 1990 she has lived in Duluth, Minn., with her husband and two children. She works at the public library and restores old houses. Her collections of poetry are “Bonfire” (1997), which won the New Rivers Press’ New Voices competition; and “Hartley Field” (2002), published by Holy Cow! Press. She has received fellowships and support from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council and the Jerome Foundation, and she was the recipient of the 1998 Willow Poetry Prize.
The funding source for the fellowships, the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry, was incorporated in 1972 in New Mexico to provide grant support for programs in poetry through nonprofit organizations. Witter Bynner was an influential early 20th century poet and translator of the Chinese classic “Tao Te Ching,” which he named “The Way of Life According to Laotzu.” He traveled with D.H. and Frieda Lawrence and proposed to Edna St. Vincent Millay (she accepted, but then they changed their minds). He worked at McClure’s magazine, where he published A.E. Houseman for the first time in the United States and was one of O. Henry’s early fans.
This is the fellowship’s ninth year. Previous fellows were Carol Muske and Carl Phillips (1998); David Gewanter, Heather McHugh and Campbell McGrath (1999), and Naomi Shihab Nye and Joshua Weiner (2000), all appointed by Robert Pinsky; the late Tory Dent and Nick Flynn (2001), appointed by Stanley Kunitz; George Bilgere and Katia Kapovich (2002), and Major Jackson and Rebecca Wee (2003), appointed by Billy Collins; Dana Levin and Spencer Reece (2004), appointed by Louise Gluck; and Claudia Emerson and Martin Walls (2005), also appointed by Ted Kooser.