Fame & Fortune in Poetry?
The University of Arkansas Press Catalog showed up in my mailbox last week with a happy reminder of the new editor of the Miller Williams Poetry Series – former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins. He’ll continue the work of Enid Shomer, under whose leadership the poetry series published nearly fifty books, along with receiving awards such as the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Brockman-Campbell Book Award and the Library of Virginia Poetry Award.
Here’s what Collins had to say about editing the Miller Williams Poetry Series:
“The driving values of the series and the prize will be consonant with Williams’s sense of what constitutes good poetry. In his practice as a poet and his work as an editor, Williams favored poetry that showed an awareness of its reader, poetry that was plain spoken but also dealt with the most essential experiences of being human. He also preferred poems that were interested in making the reader feel something rather than poems that were just expressing the plight of the poet. And a bit of humor never hurt, especially if it issued forth from a sensibility that couldn’t help viewing the world from an ironic angle.”
And for the poets, there is publication and prize money: the winner and up to three finalists are selected for publication. On top of that, the winner is awarded $5,000. Where did all that money for poetry come from? A concert by Lucinda Williams, daughter of Miller Williams and Grammy Award-winning musician, established the funding for the prize.