Timothy Donnelly

Last week, Columbia associate professor Timothy Donnelly won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, one of the most prestigious prizes awarded to contemporary poets. Not only does the award identify Donnelly as a rising star in the world of contemporary poetry, but also bestows him with $100,000, an enormous sum for a mid-career poet in today’s market. Donnelly comments,”this prize will give my family and me a measure of financial stability that would otherwise have taken a decade or more to achieve.” The award recognizes his most recent work, The Cloud Corporation, for which The New Yorker somewhat obliquely called Donnelly “an acrobatic formalist, albeit one on fast-forward.” This semester, Donnelly teaches a senior poetry workshop for undergraduates and a poetry thesis workshop School of the Arts.

Full press release after the jump…

Columbia University School of the Arts

Writing Faculty Timothy Donnelly

Receives Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award

New York, February 2, 2012—Columbia University School of the Arts is pleased to announce that Timothy Donnelly, Associate Professor of Writing, has won the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for his book The Cloud Corporation (Wave, Picador). The annual award, offered through the Claremont Graduate University, is one of the most prestigious prizes a contemporary poet can receive.

“I am thrilled that Timothy Donnelly has won the Kingsley Tufts Award,” said Carol Becker, Dean of School of the Arts. “Not only is Timothy a beloved professor, who has made monumental contributions to our Writing Program, but, as many have expressed, he is one of the great poets of his generation.”

For 20 years now, the Kingsley Tufts Award has supported and honored mid-career poets, including previous recipients D.A. Powell, Henri Cole, Matthea Harvey and Yusef Komunyakaa.

“I’m among the many people in this country who have had to go into significant debt just to get by,” Donnelly said of the seven difficult and sleep-deprived years he spent writing The Cloud Corporation. All the anxiety in the book about the economy and the struggle to make ends meet isn’t just for effect—it’s all very personal. This prize will give my family and me a measure of financial stability that would otherwise have taken a decade or more to achieve. But as true as all that is, it’s the honor of having had The Cloud Corporation chosen for this distinction that I really can’t wrap my head around.”

The Cloud Corporation is Timothy Donnelly’s second book. His first, Twenty-seven Props for a Production of Eine Lebenszeit, was published by Grove Press in 2003. His poems have been widely anthologized and translated, appearing in such periodicals as A Public Space, Fence, Harper’s, The Iowa Review, jubilat, Lana Turner, The Nation, The New Republic and The Paris Review.

This spring he is the Theodore H. Holmes ’51 and Bernice Holmes Visiting Associate Professor at Princeton University’s Program in Creative Writing and Lewis Center for the Arts. He has been poetry editor of Boston Review since 1996. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two daughters.

The Kingsley Tufts Award was established by Kate Tufts to honor the memory of her husband, who worked as an executive and wrote poetry as his avocation. Kate and Kingsley Tufts were lifelong poetry lovers and often spoke of creating such a prize. The award is presented for work by a poet who is past the very beginning but has not yet reached the pinnacle of his or her career.

“We hope these awards will give a crucial injection of encouragement to the poets of America,” said Linda Gregerson, chair of the judging panel. “We expect of these poets thrilling work in the years to come.”


The gaze of poetic insight via columbia.edu