Frank Bidart Wins Bollingen Prize in Poetry

February 22, 2007

Frank Bidart

New Haven, Conn.—A three-judge panel has named Frank Bidart the 2007 winner of University’s Bollingen Prize in American Poetry.

The judges described Bidart as “a poet whose work exemplifies consistent originality of theme, sustained linguistic and formal explorations, and a strong sense of the profoundly serious and adventurous nature of the poetic calling.”

This year’s judges were Langdon Hammer, professor of English at Yale University, Nicholas Jenkins, professor of English at Stanford University, and the poet Ellen Bryant Voigt of Vermont.

Frank Bidart was born in Bakersfield, California, in 1939 and educated at the University of California, Riverside, and at Harvard. He joined the faculty at Wellesley College in 1972. His volumes of poetry include In the Western Night: Collected Poems, 1965-90 (1990), Desire (1997), Star Dust (2005), all from Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and Music Like Dirt (2002) from Sarabande Books.

The judges also said: “An unearthly mixture of the Dionysian and the Apollonian impulses, the terrifying and the humane, the wildly inspired and the minutely crafted, Bidart’s poemssubtle—eerie, probing, sometimes shocking, always subtle—venture into psychic terrain left largely unmapped in contemporary poetry. His imaginative strenuousness and his fastidious avoidance of complacency or easy repetitions of past triumphs have led him to STAR DUST (2005), one of the strongest books of the last two years, in which Bidart manages to extend his range while never losing his voice. Indeed, Bidart’s uniquely stringent meditations on the problems, enigmas and possibilities of a poet’s ‘voice’ constitute one of the most distinctive characteristics of his poetry. For all these reasons, the Bollingen Prize Committee for 2007 is pleased to honor Frank Bidart, who has already built up a lifetime’s worth of memorable work and yet whose future writing seems certain to be freighted with fresh challenges for himself and for his readers.

The Bollingen Prize in Poetry, established by Paul Mellon in 1949, is awarded biennially by the Yale University Library to an American poet for the best book published during the previous two years or for lifetime achievement in poetry. Previous winners include Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore, W. H. Auden, E. E. Cummings, Louise Glűck, Adrienne Rich, and Jay Wright. The prize includes a cash award of $100,000. For more information about the Bollingen prize visit the following web site: Bollingen Prize for Poetry at Yale or contact Patricia C. Willis, curator of the Yale Collection of American Literature, 203-432-2962 or