L to R: Sandy Campbell, W. H. Auden, and Donald Windham.

Windham, Campbell, & Auden: Celebrating National Poetry Month

Dear Reader,

How are you? Like everyone else on the East Coast, we're scanning the skies for signs of spring, late in coming this year. Of course, as T. S. Eliot reminds us, April is the cruelest month …

Speaking of Eliot, we spent Friday afternoon at the National Arts Club in New York, with our friends at The Four Quartets Prize, presented by the T. S. Eliot Foundation in partnership with the Poetry Society of America and launched in the 75th anniversary year of the original publication of Four Quartets in America. Congratulations to winner Danez Smith and all of the finalists! And we agree that Jeremy Irons is the best interpreter of Eliot of his time. We heard him.

What makes a good prize? At Buffalo Magazine sat two experts down in its Spring 2018 Coffeehouse column, and their spirited discussion is worth a read. Our ears perked up when Professor Christina Milletti said, “The prizes that I find the most interesting are the ones that award authors as opposed to a single book, like the MacArthur ‘genius grant’ and the Windham-Campbell Prize. Those two are doing a really good job advocating writers’ projects as opposed to one specific work, which can get contentious. Who can say which book is the book of the year?”

Meanwhile, we are delighted to announce that renowned poet and scholar Elizabeth Alexander will deliver the 2018 Windham-Campbell Lecture on Yale’s campus on September 12, 2018. You can listen to Elizabeth read “Praise Song for the Day” (the work she performed at President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration ceremony) here.

We’re also pleased to report that the second installment in our “Why I Write” series, Karl Ove Knausgaard’s Inadvertent–based on last year’s Windham-Campbell Lecture–will publish in September 2018, concurrent with the paperback edition of Patti Smith’s bestselling Devotion. You can watch the lecture on which Inadvertent is based over at Literary Hub.

In closing, some news from our past and current poetry prize recipients:

Carolyn Forché (poetry, 2017) who was named the 2017-18 Sojka Visiting Poet at Bucknell University. In honor of her residency, a song cycle based on her 2003 collection The Blue Hour was co-commissioned by Bucknell, Florida State University, the University of Iowa, and Grammy-nominated chamber orchestra A Far Cry. You can read an interview about the collaborative creation process here and watch the November 10, 2017 performance at the New England Conservatory here. A professional recording of the cycle will premiere later this summer on the PBS program Articulate.

For lucky readers attending the Calabash Literary Festival this June, Jamaican poet laureate Lorna Goodison (poetry, 2018) will be featured in a “Lady Laureates” conversation with United Kingdom Poet Laureate Dame Carol-Ann Duffy, United States Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, and Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate Georgette LeBlanc.

When it rains, it pours, and we'll be curled up with a good book (poetry, probably; we recommend Visible Instruments, the new collection by our own director Michael Kelleher) until we see some May flowers. We'll be back next month to talk all about festivals!

Watch out for puddles,

The Windham-Campbell Prizes

P. S. We're still feeling exhilarated after announcing the eight new 2018 Windham-Campbell Prize recipients last month. Please visit their page at our site to get to know them better (and come meet them at our international literary festival at Yale this September, always free and open to all), or watch book vlogger Lonesome Reader's introductory video, a special favorite.