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The Denise Levertov Award

Join us for the 16th Annual Denise Levertov Award with Marilyn Nelson

Thursday, November 7, 2019
7:30 p.m.
Hugo House
1634 11th Avenue
Seattle, Washington

Marilyn Nelson, a three-time finalist for the National Book Award, is one of America’s most celebrated poets. She is the author or translator of seventeen poetry books for adults and children, five chapbooks, and in 2014 she published a memoir, named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2014, entitled How I Discovered Poetry—a series of 50 poems about growing up in the 1950’s in a military family, each poem stamped with a place and date from the many places they lived.

“American history as conceived by Marilyn Nelson is the inside-out, last-shall-be-first version. She inhabits the voices of the overlooked and disenfranchised and shines light into forgotten corners that reveal essential truths about the whole….But if she is a revisionist historian’s poet, she is also a child’s poet, a mother’s poet, a housekeeper’s poet, and scientist’s poet….It’s this breadth of perspective, from pole to pole, past to present, from spheres domestic to atmospheric, that make her so remarkable. Nelson is also an openhanded citizen of the nation of writers.” —Image

Of her many collections, The Homeplace won the 1992 Annisfield-Wolf Award and was a finalist for the 1991 National Book Award. The Fields Of Praise: New And Selected Poems won the 1998 Poets’ Prize and was a finalist for the 1997 National Book Award, the PEN Winship Award, and the Lenore Marshall Prize. The poems in this collection embrace numerous themes, including the changing nature of love, racism, motherhood, marriage, and domesticity. Carver: A Life In Poems won the 2001 Boston Globe/Hornbook Award and the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award, was a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award, a Newbery Honor Book, and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. Fortune’s Boneswas a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and won the Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Poetry. Her young adult book, A Wreath For Emmett Till, won the 2005 Boston Globe Horn Book Award and was a 2006 Coretta Scott King Honor Book, a 2006 Michael L. Printz Honor Book, and a 2006 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor Book. The Cachoiera Tales And Other Poems won the L.E. Phillabaum Award and was a finalist for the LA Times Book Award. In 2016, her poetry collection My Seneca Village won the LA Times Book Award in Young Adult Literature.

She has also published books for children and young adults including: American Ace, a historical novel that uncovers a richer understanding of race, identity, and each other (Penguin Random House, 2016); Snook Alone, a picture-book illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering (Candlewick Press, 2010); Sweethearts of Rhythm: The Story of the Greatest All-Girl Swing Band in the World, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney (Dial Books, 2009); The Freedom Business: Including A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, a Native of Africa (Front Street, 2008); The Cat Walked through the Casserole and Other Poems for Children (with Pamela Espeland, 1984); and Halfdan Rasmussen’s Hundreds of Hens and Other Poems for Children (1982), which she translated from Danish with Pamela Espeland. In 2012, Faster Than Light: New and Selected Poems and Ostrich and Lark, a picture-book illustrated by San (Bushman) artists, were published.

Her honors include two NEA creative writing fellowships, the 2019 Poetry Foundation’s Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the 1990 Connecticut Arts Award, an A.C.L.S. Contemplative Practices Fellowship, the Department of the Army’s Commander’s Award for Public Service, a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship, a fellowship from the J.S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Frost Medal-the Poetry Society of America’s most prestigious award, for a “distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry.” Nelson is a professor emerita of English at the University of Connecticut; was (2004-2010) founder/director and host of Soul Mountain Retreat, a small non-profit writers’ colony; and held the office of Poet Laureate of the State of Connecticut from 2001-2006.

Marilyn Nelson’s website

In 2004, Image established the Denise Levertov Award to honor one of the twentieth century’s greatest poets.

The Levertov Award is given annually to an artist, musician, or writer whose work exemplifies a serious and sustained engagement with faith. The occasion is marked by a reading or performance by the award recipient in Seattle, co-sponsored by Seattle Pacific University’s English department and Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program.

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Denise Levertov, who spent her last years in Seattle, embraced the landscape and culture of the Pacific Northwest. Particularly in her later poetry, her identity as a Christian believer—a pilgrim whose faith was inextricably entwined with doubt—became another important facet of her work.

Read a personal essay by Murray Bodo about Denise Levertov’s life, work, and faith, originally published in Image issue 27.

About Hugo House

Founded by three Seattle-based writers, Hugo House has been a literary and cultural hub for two decades. Named for Richard Hugo, a poet whose early life was marked by poverty, Hugo House has sought to help people “find and leave a record of who they are” through written work, no matter their circumstances. Since its inception, the nonprofit has hosted panels, classes, events, and writers-in-residence, and worked with artists including Billy Collins and Sharon Olds, among others. For its twentieth anniversary, Hugo House relocated to a new venue in Capitol Hill. Image’s Levertov Award will be one of the first events since Hugo House opened its doors on a new location and a new decade of literary community.

Levertov Award Recipients

2018 | Carolyn Forché

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2017 | Richard Rodriguez

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2016 | Dana Gioia

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2015 | Bruce Cockburn

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2014 | Scott Cairns

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2013 | Luci Shaw

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2012 | Patricia Hampl

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2011 | Sam Phillips

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2010 | Ron Hansen

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2009 | Eugene Peterson

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2008 | Thomas Lynch

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2007 | Bret Lott

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2006 | Kathleen Norris

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2005 | Franz Wright

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2004 | Madeline DeFrees

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