January 12, 2016 Poet Laureate Selects 2016 Witter Bynner Fellow, Allison Hedge Coke

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The 21st Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress, Juan Felipe Herrera, has selected poet Allison Hedge Coke for the 2016 Witter Bynner Fellowship.

Herrera will introduce a program celebrating Hedge Coke at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 9, in the Mumford Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. 20540. The event is free and open to the public. No tickets are needed.

Hedge Coke will receive a $10,000 fellowship. This is the 19th year that the fellowship has been awarded.

In his selection, Herrera said he sought to honor Hedge Coke “for her precision of Earth, of suffering in and out of the Rez, of the workers unnamed, open roads knitted with tin shacks, Case '45 tractors, ancestor dust and the spirit tuned to caribou, America and song. For her translation projects of First Peoples across the entire hemisphere. For her unceasing teaching, humility, courage, and pioneering—for these offerings to the small miracles of all our voices and the galaxies they aim to call out and admire.”

Hedge Coke said, “I am utterly grateful, thrilled, and deeply moved to be selected for the 2016 Witter Bynner Fellowship, stunned really, as it is by far the most humbling public moment of my life. Moreover, to be selected by such an immeasurably active Poet Laureate is just an immense honor.”

Hedge Coke is the author of four poetry collections: “Streaming” (2015); “Blood Run” (2006 UK, 2007 US); “Off-Season City Pipe” (2005); “Dog Road Woman” (1997); a memoir “Rock, Ghost, Willow, Deer” (2014); and a chapbook “Year of the Rat” (1996).

Her honors include an American Book Award, an Independent Publisher Book Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Native Writers' Circle of the Americas. She has won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Lannan Foundation, and the MacDowell Colony for the Arts. Hedge Coke is the editor of eight poetry collections, one titled “Sing: Poetry From the Indigenous Americas” (2011) was named a Best Book of 2011 by the National Books Critics Circle's Critical Mass. Hedge Coke is a founding faculty member of the Vermont College of Fine Arts’ full-residency MFA in Writing and Publishing Program, where she teaches poetry, creative nonfiction and publishing.

The Witter Bynner Fellowship supports the writing of poetry. Only two things are asked of each fellow: that he/she organize a reading in their hometowns and participation in reading and recording sessions 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 through non-profit 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 travelled with D.H. Lawrence 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 include 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; Laurie Lamon and David Tucker (2007), appointed by Donald Hall; Matthew Thorburn and Monica Youn (2008), appointed by Charles Simic; Christina Davis and Mary Szybist (2009) and Jill McDonough and Atsuro Riley (2010), appointed by Kay Ryan; Forrest Gander and Robert Bringhurst (2011), appointed by W.S. Merwin; L.S. Asekoff and Sheila Black (2012) appointed by Philip Levine; and Sharon Dolin and Shara McCallum (2013); Honorée Fannone Jeffers and Jake Adam York (2014), appointed by Natasha Trethewey; and Emily Fragos and Bobby C. Rogers (2015), appointed by Charles Wright.

The Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress fosters and enhances the public’s appreciation of literature. The center administers the endowed chair, U.S. Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry; coordinates an annual season of readings, performances, lectures and symposia; and sponsors prizes and fellowships for literary writers. For more information, visit loc.gov/poetry/.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s first-established federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 160 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at loc.gov.


PR 16-010
ISSN 0731-3527