Canadian Lisa Robertson wins $40K poetry prize from New York's Foundation For Contemporary Arts

Lisa Robertson, an experimental poet, won the inaugural C.D. Wright Award for Poetry.
Lisa Robertson began publishing poetry in the 1990s in Vancouver. (Courtesy of Book*hug)

Experimental poet Lisa Robertson has been awarded the inaugural C.D. Wright Award for Poetry, a $40,000 prize administered by New York's Foundation for Contemporary Arts.

"Lisa 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," said poets Tonya Foster and Peter Gizzi, who were advisors during the confidential selection process.

"Her poems are compelling reads and never stint on intellection. They please as they muse and weave various affective philosophical speech acts."

Robertson was born and raised in Canada, and began developing and publishing poetry in Vancouver in the 1990s. Her books include XEclogue, The Men, Nilling and Debbie: An Epic, which was shortlisted for the 1998 Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry.

Throughout her career, Robertson has completed residencies and fellowships at the University of Cambridge, Princeton University, Naropa University and the University of Chicago. She has lived in France since 2004.

The C.D. Wright Award for Poetry will be awarded annually to a poet over the age of 50, whose work "exemplifies C.D. Wright's vibrant lyricism, seriousness and striking originality."

Wright, an esteemed American poet, died in 2016 at the age of 67. This new prize was established from an endowment gift of $1 million from artists Ellsworth Kelly and Jack Shear.

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