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October 14, 1994

1994 Bobbitt Poetry Prize Awarded to A.R. Ammons

The 1994 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry will be awarded to A. R. Ammons at 8 p.m. Thursday October 27 in the Mumford Room, sixth floor, James Madison Memorial Building. This year's prize, the third to be given, is awarded to Mr. Ammons for his book, Garbage, published in 1993 by W. W. Norton. A public reception honoring Mr. Ammons will follow in the Montpelier Room.

The biennial $10,000 prize, a privately funded poetry prize given on behalf of the nation, recognizes the most distinguished book of poetry written by an American and published during the preceding two years. The prize is donated by the family of the late Mrs. Bobbitt of Austin, Texas, in her memory, and established at the Library of Congress. She was President Lyndon B. Johnson's sister. While a graduate student in Washington, D.C. during the 1930s, Rebekah Johnson met college student O. P. Bobbitt when they both worked in the cataloging department of the Library of Congress. They married and returned to Texas.

A. R. Ammons was born in Whiteville, North Carolina. His early interests were scientific, and he earned a B.S. degree at Wake Forest College in 1949. He later attended the University of California at Berkeley, where he studied English literature. He is now Goldwin Smith Professor of Poetry at Cornell University. In 1955, when he was 30, Mr. Ammons published his first collection of poems, Ommateum. In 1973 his Collected Poems: 1951-1971 won him his first National Book Award for poetry; in 1975, Sphere won the Bollingen Prize; in 1982 A Coat of Trees won the National Book Critics' Circle Award; and his Bobbitt Award- winning collection, Garbage, also took this year's National Book Award for poetry.

The winner of the 1994 Bobbitt Prize was chosen by a three- member jury appointed in May by a selection committee composed of the Librarian of Congress, the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, a publisher named by the Academy of American Poets, and a literary critic nominated by the Bobbitt family. The jury for this year's prize was Michael S. Harper, Robert Hass and Helen Vendler.

Ms. Vendler commented that A. R. Ammons writes "networks of words, intricate as the realities they represent. In Garbage, the realities are death, desecration, and despair, and Ammons's volatile currents of language unfailingly provide that network."

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PR 94-159
ISSN 0731-3527

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