Wednesday 14 February 2007

Rodney Jones wins $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Award

Rodney Jones, whose poems I recommend highly, has won this year's Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for his most recent book Salvation Blues: One Hundred Poems, 1985 -- 2005. The prize gives $100,000 (US) annually to a poet "...who is past the very beginning but has not yet reached the acknowledged pinnacle of his or her career."

The Southern (Illinois) reports:
Jones said when he first heard he had won the Tufts award, one of the first things he uttered was an expletive.

"I was astonished when they told me about it," he said. "There are so many people who write well. I don't mean I'm better than them; I'm saying I'm lucky."

Jones has been writing poetry since he was 19, when he was a student at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

"A poet had moved in next door to me, and I wrote down some things just to see what he thought of them. Of course, he thought they were terrible," Jones said.

Jones' career would prove to the contrary. He earned a master of fine arts from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and joined the SIUC faculty in 1985. Since then, Jones has won several awards including the Harper Lee Award, a National Book Critics Circle Award and the Academy of American Poets Lavan Younger Poets Award. He also has been a Pulitzer finalist. (more here.)
This is great news. I've been reading Rodney Jones' poetry for years, and I think he's a marvellous poet. Click here for an audio link to Jones reading two poems for the NEA's Poetry Out Loud program.

This award, which has been around since 1993, has a great track record as far as I'm concerned. Last year's winner was another favourite of mine, Lucia Perillo, for her wonderful book Luck is Luck. Past winners also include terrific poets like Henri Cole, Carl Phillips, B.H. Fairchild, and Susan Mitchell.

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