Lisa Robertson is the inaugural winner of the $40,000 C.D. Wright Award for Poetry, which recognizes "a poet over the age of 50 whose work exemplifies Wright's vibrant lyricism, seriousness, and striking originality." The Foundation for Contemporary Arts received a $1 million endowment gift from artists Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015) and Jack Shear to establish the prize, which will be presented annually and administered through FCA's Grants to Artists program.
Poets Tonya Foster and Peter Gizzi, the 2018 poetry advisors to FCA's selection process, said Robertson "has found a form, a force, a method and a voice distinctly and brilliantly her own. She does this by massing language that is at once percussive and rhythmic, archaic in its feel but deploying an utterly contemporary diction and mood. Her poems are compelling reads and never stint on intellection. They please as they muse and weave various affective philosophical speech acts." Her books of poetry include 3 Summers; Lisa Robertson's Magenta Soul Whip; Cinema of the Present; XEclogue; Debbie: An Epic; The Weather; The Men; and R’s Boat.
The C.D. Wright Award for Poetry was established in memory of the beloved poet, who died in 2016. Her husband, the poet Forrest Gander, said, "I've known that she was of signal importance to poets around the world--the first tribute/memorial organized for C.D. was in Stockholm--but the fact of this award coming from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, an advocate for all arts, that means the most to me."
Shear said that Kelly "was an avid reader--poetry, fiction, art books and exhibition catalogs were stacked on every table. I know the poetry of C.D. Wright and Forrest Gander could be found in those piles. The C.D. Wright Award for Poetry will support the poets whose books will cover a future reader's table, while honoring C.D.'s life's work and her support of other poets."
Stacy Tenenbaum Stark, executive director of the FCA commented: "The C.D. Wright Award for Poetry marks Ellsworth Kelly's and Jack Shear's second major contribution to FCA.Their deep understanding of the artist community has once again produced a visionary opportunity for artists. It is doubly meaningful that this award is named for C.D. Wright, a past grantee of the Foundation, and that it will support poetry, a vital and under-resourced artistic discipline. We are thrilled that the first C.D. Wright Award will be made to Lisa Robertson."