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Juliana Spahr awarded Hardison Prize

Juliana Spahr, one of the leading "poet/critics" to emerge on the American literary landscape over the past decade and a key figure associated with the University at Buffalo's Poetics Program in the 1990's, 
has been awarded the 19th annual O.B. Hardison, Jr. Poetry Prize by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., Poets & Writers Magazine reported on Wednesday.
 
Ms. Spahr, who earned her Ph.D at UB in 1995, is the author of seven books of poems, including Response (Sun & Moon Press, 1996), winner of the National Poetry Series Award, and an influential book of criticism Everyone’s Autonomy: Collective Reading and Collective Identity (University of Alabama Press, 2001).  Her recent books are This Connection of Everyone with Lungs (University of California Press, 2005),  a collection of poems written after (and in response to) 9/11 and the buildup to the US invasion of Iraq, and The Transformation (Atelos Press, 2007), a lyric memoir describing the movements and ideas of three persons who traverse between Hawaii and New York City while discussing cultural geography, ecology, anticolonialism, queer theory, language politics, academia, and ongoing wars (not necessarily in that order).
 
While here in Buffalo, she and fellow poet Peter Gizzi organized the New Coast Conference, a major gathering of younger writers and thinkers influenced by the Language movement in late March and early April of 1993 that re-established Buffalo as one of the focal points of avant-garde poetics in North America.  Along with fellow poet Jena Osman, she also founded the journal Chain, which became a leading venue for innovative topical and cross genre writing from 1995 to 2004.



The O.B. Hardison, Jr., Poetry Prize is awarded "to honor a U.S. poet whose art and teaching demonstrate great imagination and daring" by the Folger Shakespeare Library, a privately endowed independent research library administered by the trustees of Amherst College on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.  To qualify for the award, a poet must have published at least one book within the last five years, have made significant contributions as a teacher, and be committed to furthering the understanding of poetry.  Recent winner of the Hardison Prize include Jorie Graham, Frank Bidart, Heather McHugh, Cornelius Eady, Tony Hoagland, Reginald Gibbons, and Mary Kinzie.
 
The prize is named after former library director O.B. Hardison, Jr. (1928–1990), who founded the Folger Poetry Series in 1970.  The Folger Shakespeare Library is named for Henry Clay Folger, a Shakespeare enthusiast and manuscript collector who served as president and chairman of Standard Oil of New York from 1923 to 1928.
 
Ms. Spahr, who now teaches at Mills College in California, will deliver a reading and receive the prize, which carries a $10,000 cash award, in a ceremony at the library on October 9th.

--R.D. Pohl

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