March 13, 2007 Poet Laureate Chooses Two New Voices in American Poetry for 10th Annual Witter Bynner Award and Reading, March 29
Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Patricia Gray (202) 707-1308
Poet Laureate Donald Hall has chosen two new voices in poetry, college professor Laurie Lamon and newspaperman David Tucker, for the 2007 Witter Bynner Fellowships and will introduce the poets on March 29 at the Library of Congress.
Lamon, from Spokane, Wash., and Tucker, from South Orange, N.J., will read from their works at 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, March 29, in the Mumford Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public; tickets are not required.
Lamon teaches creative writing at Whitworth College in Spokane, and Tucker is deputy managing editor at the Newark Star Ledger. Each will receive a $10,000 fellowship, provided by the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry in conjunction with the Library of Congress. It is the 10th year the fellowships have been awarded.
Hall, in his second appearance at the Library as Poet Laureate, will award the prizes to Lamon and Tucker. He said the poets “are as different as the two giants of American poetry in the 19th century – Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson.”
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said, “During the past decade, the Witter Bynner Foundation has provided funds that enable the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to award two or more fellowships to poets of distinction, as a way to encourage poets and poetry.”
Lamon takes a philosophical and innovative approach to her work. Hall said, “Laurie Lamon is an exquisite writer of lyrics, writing a musical poetry that is delicate and pure.” Her carefully wrought poems draw on close observation of the natural world, its changing seasons, and its underlying hint of growth from decay.
Lamon is the author of “The Fork Without Hunger” (2005). She received a Graves Award in the Humanities in 2002, which allowed her a paid release from teaching to conduct research for a Poetry of Witness course. She was awarded a Pushcart Prize in 2001 for the poem, “Pain Thinks of the Beautiful Table.” Her work has appeared in the The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, Ploughshares and other magazines and reviews. Lamon earned a doctorate in English literature in 1988 from the University of Utah, a master’s degree in 1982 from the University of Montana and a bachelor’s degree in 1978 from Whitworth College, where she is now an associate professor.
Tucker, a graduate of the University of Michigan, studied poetry with Robert Hayden, and his collection, “Late for Work” (2006), won a Bakeless Prize from the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. According to publisher Houghton Mifflin, the book “follows a reporter’s jostling for headlines, evoking the gritty glamour of the newsroom in wry, poignant poems.”
Tucker has worked for 28 years at leading newspapers. He is a member of the New Jersey Star-Ledger team that won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news. A colleague at the paper said, “His nose for news is matched only by his ear for language, and a capacious heart always seeking to plumb the human condition with both.”
The Witter Bynner fellowships are to be used to support the writing of poetry. Only two things are asked of the fellows: that they organize a reading in their hometown and participate in a reading and recording session at the Library of Congress. Applications are not taken for the fellowships; the Poet Laureate makes the selection.
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. Housman for the first time in the United States and was one of O. Henry’s early fans.
Previous Witter Bynner fellows were Carol Muske-Dukes 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; Claudia Emerson and Martin Walls (2005); and Joseph Stroud and Connie Wanek (2006), appointed by Ted Kooser.
For further information on Witter Bynner fellowships and the poetry program at the Library of Congress, visit www.loc.gov/poetry.
For photos of Hall, Lamon or Tucker, contact Donna Urschel at 202-707-1639.