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Gary Snyder Snags Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize

Gary Snyder

Gary Snyder, one of my favorite poets, won the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. What does this mean?

Established in 1986 and presented annually by the Poetry Foundation, the award is one of the most prestigious given to American poets, and at $100,000 it is one of the nation’s largest literary awards. Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry magazine and chair of the selection committee, made the announcement today. The prize will be presented at an evening ceremony at the Arts Club of Chicago on Thursday, May 29.

Yeah. I don’t know about Prof. Snyder…maybe he’s got a lucrative career on the side that I’m unaware of. But $100K to a poet? A poet? Wow. That’s something to any writer, but especially to a poet, when it’s hard to get people these days to read, much less read poetry. Well done.

If you don’t know his work, I would recommend No Nature for a nice primer. Also, if you can lay hands upon the performance of Turtle Island he did with Paul Winter, grab it. It’s criminal that it’s out of print. And to my knowledge never hit CD.

One of my favorite poems reprinted after the jump.

December at Yase

You said, that October,
In the tall dry grass by the orchard
When you chose to be free,
“Again someday, maybe ten years.”

After college I saw you
One time. You were strange.
And I was obsessed with a plan.

Now ten years and more have
Gone by: I’ve always known
        where you were–
I might have gone to you
Hoping to win your love back.
You still are single.

I didn’t.
I thought I must make it alone. I
Have done that.

Only in dream, like this dawn,
Does the grave, awed intensity
Of our young love
Return to my mind, to my flesh.

We had what the others
All crave and seek for;
We left it behind at nineteen.

I feel ancient, as though I had
Lived many lives.
And may never now know
If I am a fool
Or have done what my
        karma demands.

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