Poet Richard Wilbur
SHREVEPORT, LA -- The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Richard Wilbur will receive the ninth annual John William Corrington Award for Literary Excellence at Centenary College and read from his work at Centenary on Tuesday, March 9. The presentation will take place at 7 p.m. in South Dining Hall of Bynum Commons.
Sponsored by the Student Government Association and the English Department, the event is free and open to the public.
The author of many volumes of poetry, Wilbur became the second officially designated Poet Laureate of the United States when he succeeded Robert Penn Warren in 1987. Wilbur has twice been awarded the Pulitzer Prize: for Things of This World in 1957 and New and Collected Poems in 1989.
In 1956, Wilbur collaborated with composer Leonard Bernstein and playwright Lillian Hellman on the comic operetta Candide, based on the novel by Voltaire. He is also known for his translations of The Misanthrope and Tartuffe by the 17th-century French dramatist Molière. For the 1963 translation of Tartuffe, Wilbur received the prestigious Bollingen Prize.
Born in 1921 in New York City, Wilbur was educated at Amherst College, where Robert Frost was his mentor. After serving in the infantry in Italy and France, Wilbur received the M.A. degree from Harvard in 1947. That year also saw the publication of his first book of poems, The Beautiful Changes, about which Wilbur has observed: "My first poems were written in answer to the inner and outer disorders of the second World War and they helped me . . .to take ahold of raw events and convert them, provisionally, into experience." He taught for 20 years at Wesleyan College and served as writer-in-residence at Smith College from 1977 to 1986.
Other books of poetry by Wilbur include Ceremony and Other Poems (1950), Advice to a Prophet (1961), Walking to Sleep (1969) and The Mind-Reader (1976). Wilbur is also the author of several volumes of light verse for children. These include Opposites (1973), More Opposites (1991) and Runaway Opposites (1995).
When Wilbur's New and Collected Poems appeared in 1988, the reviewer for The New York Times observed the "elegance and attractiveness" of Wilbur's verse and concluded: "If it were not for writers like him, future students might wonder if there were no poets in the late 20th century who championed beauty...or who were capable of rising above all the despair and doubt."
The award is named for John William Corrington, an author and Centenary alumnus who died in 1988. The award takes the form of a bronze medal designed by the internationally acclaimed Louisiana sculptor Clyde Connell. A unique feature of the award is that work by the recipient serves as a text in all first-year English classes at Centenary. This semester, students are reading Wilbur's New and Collected Poems.
Previous recipients of the Corrington Award have been Eudora Welty, Ernest J. Gaines, James Dickey, Miller Williams, Lee Smith, Paul Auster, Elizabeth Spencer, and Anthony Hecht.
For further information, contact Dr. David Havird of the Centenary Department of English at 318-869-5085 or 869-5254.